SNWA discusses drinking water after boy dies from brain-eating amoeba likely contracted at Lake Mead

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 7:08 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Health officials say a Clark County boy died from a brain-eating amoeba after they believe he was exposed on the Arizona side of Lake Mead in early October.

The CDC notified the Southern Nevada Health District that Naegleria fowleri was confirmed as the cause of the patient’s illness.

People can be exposed when water containing an amoeba enters their nose, typically when swimming, diving or putting their head underwater, according to the CDC.

“It’s extremely tragic that a member of our community ended up being infected by this relatively rare amoeba,” said Southern Nevada Water Authority spokesperson Bronson Mack.

Mack says amoebas like to live in warm water, which includes shallow water heated by the sun. He also says amoebas can live in hot springs that many locals visit in and around Lake Mead.

As far as the amoeba and drinking water we get from Lake Mead, Mack says there are a couple things the public should know. While amoebas are found in warm water environments, Mack says our water intake system at the lake draws cool water from deep within the lake. He says along with that, they filter, chlorinate and use other processes which are impactful.

“All of those aspects are very, very effective at inactivating any microorganisms that are found within the raw water system, so that they can be filtered out,” said Mack.

Mack added, “Southern Nevada has some of the most robust and advanced water treatment processes that are intended to handle these types of contaminants, so that we can make sure water that gets delivered to your taps continues to meet or surpass those federal safe drinking water standards.

The Clark County boy may have been exposed in the Kingman Wash area of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.