Brain-Eating Amoeba Spurs ‘Difficult Decision’ To Close Aussie Lake

Open Jaw

The discovery of a brain-eating amoeba in a popular lake in Australia’s Hunter Valley has forced the lake’s immediate and permanent closure to the public – a major blow to the local tourism industry.

If you’ve never heard of a brain-eating amoeba and don’t want to know any more, stop reading now. To be honest, we wish we had.

Normally, the Naegleria fowleri organism eats bacteria, but if humans inhale water containing the organism through the nose (while diving or swimming in a lake for instance) it will switch to using the human brain as its food source.

Symptoms appear after a few days, and as Wikipedia puts it: “Once the trophozoites ingest brain tissue and symptoms begin to appear, death will usually occur within two weeks.”

AGL Macquarie general manager Ian Brooksbank told the Newcastle Herald that the decision to close the lake permanently “has been a difficult one.” With apologies, we’d actually call that decision a ‘no-brainer.’

The parasite is almost always deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1962 and 2015 there were 138 known cases of primary amebic meningoencephalitis, the infection caused by the amoeba, and only three of those patients survived.

Now do you wish you stopped reading?

Lake Liddell, a man-made lake, was created for the purpose of cooling an important power station. The lake, which also stores the water the power station needs, has for years served as a recreation area and habitat for wildlife.

The amoeba is not restricted to Australia. CNN reported today that an unidentified patient in Florida is being treated after being infected by the brain-eater, and it’s the 4th such case this year.

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