Brain-Eating Amoeba Is Now in Grand Teton National Park

It's killed two people in the Carolinas this summer already

Aug 11, 2016
Outside Magazine

Ever since we ran a story looking into the brain-eating parasite lurking in waterways across the South, we've noticed a stream of terrifying new reports showing that the deadly Naegleria fowleri amoeba is creeping further afield.

Though your risk of dying by the amoeba is extremely low, the fact that it's cropping up in popular destinations around the country is still bad news. This thing kills just about everyone who contracts it—97 percent of them, to be exact. Last week, an 11-year-old girl in South Carolina died after being exposed from swimming in a river in Charleston County. In June, an 18-year-old paddler became infected at a water park in North Carolina and died shortly thereafter. The ameoba typically enters your body when water bearing it enters your nose. From our report:

The amoeba travels up the olfactory nerves and attacks the brain’s frontal lobe and connective tissue, causing swelling. Once a person is infected, death usually occurs within five to 18 days.

Now, the parasite has been detected in geothermal pools in Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area, according to National Parks Traveler. It's unclear whether it's spreading or just being observed and reported with more frequency. Either way, park superintendent David Vela is urging people to steer clear of geothermal features. The parasite has also been found in hot springs in Yellowstone National Park—just up the way from Grand Teton—but if you were to try swimming in them you’d probably die from the heat and chemicals first.

For more details on the amoeba and how the Centers for Disease Control investigates these deaths, check out our story from July.

Filed To: Adventure, Science

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Open a World of Adventure

Our Dispatch email delivers the stories you can’t afford to miss.

Thank you!