Water safety concerns after "Brain Eating Amoeba" takes another - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Water safety concerns after "Brain Eating Amoeba" takes another life

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SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - Microscopic threats like the brain eating amoeba and other dangerous bacteria can be found in east Texas waters. CBS 19's Katiera Winfrey reports there is ways you can protect yourself.

It's not uncommon in the Texas heat to take a dip in the lake. Tabitha Dickinson doesn't let her children play in it.

"It's like black tar right now it's pretty nasty," said Dickinson.

There is a specific threat to look out for. Naegleria Fowleri, or more commonly known as the often deadly brain eating amoeba.

"This amoeba in many many places in many places is really ubiquitous...that is everywhere," said Chris Van Deusen with the Texas Department of State Health Services. He said the amoeba is always present in fresh water, so they don't test for it.

"It's so rare and hard to study why people are more susceptible to it," said Jeana Benwill who is an infectious disease professor at UT Health Northeast.

She said if you're swimming in the Lake you may not have too many problems, but if you jump or dive in, especially stagnant water, you can ingest that through your nose or mouth.

The amoeba uses the nasal cavity to get to the brain.

In the past 30 years, about 30 people have died in Texas from the amoeba. The Texas Department of State Health Services said they don't discourage people from going to the lake, but to just be careful.

However they suggest if you do swim in the lake to use nose clips or hold your nose when going under.

The best suggestion for safety they say is to swim in a well maintained chlorinated pool.


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