"Okla. Heat, Drought Allow Deadly Amoeba To Thrive"

"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, Naegleria fowleri, is being blamed for the death of a 9-year-old Bryan County boy who came down with a case of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, after swimming and diving in the Red River last month.

The amoeba that causes the disease occurs naturally in warm freshwater worldwide and in the U.S. is more prevalent in the southern states. This summer, triple-digit heat and lack of rain have caused temperatures to rise and levels to fall in Oklahoma lakes and streams — a perfect environment for the organism to thrive, said epidemiologist Lawrence Burnsed of the Oklahoma State Department of Health."

Tim Talley reports for the Associated Press August 18, 2012.

Source: AP, 08/20/2012