Stillwater holds 1st town meeting on Lily Lake, PAM death - KMSP-TV

Stillwater holds 1st town meeting on Lily Lake, PAM death

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Officials in Stillwater held the first of several town meetings about Lily Lake after a 9-year-old boy died from a rare amebic disease he contracted while swimming there.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that Jack Ariola died of complications from primary amebic meningeoncephalitis, or PAM, earlier in August. Local officials hope representatives from that agency will attend future meetings to help provide more information about the illness.

Ariola's death marks the second attributed to the disease, which is caused by an organism known as Naegleria fowleri, in two years. A young girl from Stillwater, 7-year-old Anne Bahneman, died from the same disease in 2010.

At the meeting on Monday night, emotions were running high as residents expressed frustration that leaders had failed to protect the boy.

Although officials say the infection is extremely rare, the lake has been closed to swimmers since health department officials first began to suspect PAM had caused Ariola's death. The lake remains open to boating and fishing.


Health officials say Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba that is commonly found in warm freshwater and soil across the world. It infects humans by entering through the nose -- usually while swimming or diving -- and it causes a severe brain infection that is nearly always fatal.

Swimmers can take the following precautions to protect themselves during heat waves:

  • Keep your head above water
  • Use nose clips or hold your nose shut when submerged
  • Avoid stirring up sediment in shallow areas

PAM infections usually occur in warm, southern states. Between 2001 and 2011, just 40 cases were reported in the United States. Since 1925, there have only been 125 confirmed cases in the country.

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