Summer Heat, Drought Allow Deadly Amoeba to Thrive

Aug 19, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — High temperatures and an ongoing drought are having an impact on more than just crops and livestock.

State health officials say they are also creating ideal conditions for the growth of a tiny, single-cell organism that lives in Oklahoma's rivers, lakes and ponds and can cause a disease that is almost always fatal.

The organism is called Naegleria fowleri and is being blamed for the death of a 9-year-old Bryan County boy who contracted primary amoebic meningo -encephalitis after swimming in the Red River last month.

Deaths have also been reported in Minnesota and South Carolina this summer. Epidemiologist Lawrence Burnsed of the Oklahoma State Department of Health says summertime heat and the lack of rain have created a perfect environment for the organism to thrive.