As hot as it's been lately Oklahomans are looking for ways to cool off this Summer including hitting the lakes, ponds, and rivers for a quick dip, but is it safe? The dangers a lot of people are concerned with are invisible to the naked eye and you won't know if it's attacked you until it's too late. The dreaded brain-eating amoeba!

The brain-eating amoeba (Naegleria Fowleri) is found in lakes, ponds, rivers, and other areas freshwater gathers. It can also be found in untreated or improperly treated swimming pools, taps, and fountains. However, it's found most frequently in untreated fresh water bodies such as lakes, ponds, and rivers.


So is this terrifying brain-eating amoeba found in Oklahoma? Yes, there have been 7 reported and confirmed cases of Naegleria Fowleri in state lakes according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Now before you start to really freak out keep in mind these 7 cases were from 1962 to 2020. So we're talking about a 58-year time span. You can click here to see the case report and U.S. exposure map.

So what exactly does this amoeba do and just how dangerous is it? As the nickname implies, it eats the brain. More often than not it's fatal. However, a few people have survived an infection or attack but most people die from the exposure. What's worse is this amoeba thrives in warm water around the 80-90 degree mark. That has people concerned. As hot as it's been lately Oklahoma lakes, ponds and rivers are definitely within the ideal temperature ranges for this amoeba to thrive and become a possible threat to humans.

Hit play on the video below to learn more about the brain-eating amoeba (Naegleria Fowleri)

So how does this tiny, microscopic amoeba infect people? According to doctors and scientists, it usually enters the body through the nose. Once exposure has taken place it makes its way to the brain and causes Naegleriasis which is a severe brain infection that ultimately leads to PAM (Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis). Typically symptoms of infection and exposure aren't apparent until 5 or so days later.

The symptoms include a change in tastes and smell, headache, back and body aches, high fever, nausea, and vomiting. Eventually, it could lead to seizures, confusion, and hallucinations. Once the symptoms start it progresses quickly and usually within a week or two death occurs. The fatality rate for Naegleriasis is around 98.5% so it's almost always fatal. Of the 450 known cases, just 7 survived. Those aren't good odds!


Sadly it seems that this amoeba ends up attacking/infecting children or young adults more often than not. Doctors think it may have something to do with physical development and the higher levels of potential exposure. Even though it's considered rare,  how do you avoid this brain-eating amoeba? Limiting your exposure is the only real answer. Avoid swimming or water activities at lakes, ponds, and rivers, especially during high temps. The warmer the water, 75% or higher, the more likely the amoeba can be present.

Doctors also suggest that you not dive or place your head below the water while swimming in freshwaters like lakes, ponds, and rivers. They also suggest that you wear a nose plug or clip to help avoid getting water in your nose. Make sure if you own or frequent a pool, wading pool, or spa that it's properly cleaned and chlorinated. These tips will help reduce your chances of being exposed to the brain-eating amoeba.

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Gallery Credit: Don "Critter" Brown

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Take a break from the boring and ordinary and make your next overnight stay more spectacular and memorable. These rentals are a lot more than just a place to stay, all of them could easily be a vacation destination and experience all on their own! If you're planning a staycation or vacation in Oklahoma you should definitely check out these epic and unusual Airbnb rentals versus booking just a plain old room at a hotel or motel. You could make your accommodations a part of the experience itself by staying at any of these amazing places in the Sooner State. Scroll through the photo gallery below to check them out.

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