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Missouri health officials have confirmed that a patient contracted a rare brain infection from an amoeba that can be found in warm fresh water.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

Missouri patient infected with rare brain-eating amoeba after swimming on a beach diedthe state health department told CNN on Friday.

The name of the victim will not be disclosed. This is the first confirmed case of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), Missouri in 35 years. Only 154 cases have been recorded in the United States since 1962, said DHSS spokeswoman Lisa Cox. in a previous statement.

Authorities believe the patient was exposed to Naegleria fowleri, otherwise known as the brain-eating amoeba that caused the infection, while on the beach at Lake of the Three Fires State Park in Iowa. The beach will be closed to swimmers while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing whether there is a risk of further exposure, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The patient was hospitalized and treated in an intensive care unit. No other cases of infection are studied in either statesaid the Iowa Department of Health.

People can get the infection when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. The infection cannot spread from person to person and cannot be caused by drinking contaminated water, according to the CDC.

The microscopic unicellular amoeba is found in warm fresh waters such as lakes, rivers and ponds. Once a person is infected, the amoeba travels to the brain and begins to destroy tissue, the CDC said.

While PAM infections are rare, those who swim can reduce the risk of infection by limiting the amount of water that comes up through the nose, according to the DHSS.

The DHSS recommends following precautions:

  • Close your nose, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when participating in water-related activities in bodies of warm fresh water.
  • Avoid putting your head underwater in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters.
  • Avoid water-related activities in warm fresh water during periods of high water temperature.
  • Avoid digging or stirring up sediment when participating in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

Symptoms of infection include severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, seizures and hallucinations. Anyone who experiences symptoms after swimming in a hot body of water should contact a medical professional as the infection progresses rapidly.

Sophia Belshe of The Star contributed to this report

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