With summer approaching and rising temperatures many of us head to the lake to cool off.
But Marion County Environmental Health Officials are warning swimmers of a parasite living at the bottom of freshwater lakes and ponds.
The microscopic organism called Naegleria fowleri can lead to a rare disease called Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis or PAM.
It thrives only in water warmer than 80 degrees and if it enters your nose it can travel rapidly to your brain and spinal cord.
Symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations, and loss of balance and bodily control.
To decrease your risk of infection:
Wear nose clips or hold your nose shut while swimming, diving, or jumping in any freshwater.
Avoid warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
Avoid stirring up the sediment at the bottom while in warm, shallow freshwater areas.
The amoeba can't live in cool water springs and swimming pools, making them free of the parasite. For more information visit www.floridahealth.com and select Marion County.
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