Summer warning issued for amoebic meningitis

Signs at Moore River.
Signs at Moore River.

THE Shire of Gingin reminded people heading to rivers and estuaries, including Moore River, this summer to keep heads above water to avoid a rare amoebic infection.

“Swimmers should be aware that when water temperatures rise above 20C amoeba organisms may be present, particularly in shallow waters,” President Sam Collard said.

“This includes lakes, rivers and dams.”

Cr Collard said the Health Department recommended people minimise risks by keeping their heads above water when swimming in warm, fresh water and avoiding jumping or diving in if water could be “forced up the nose at pressure”.

“Bright yellow health and safety alert signs about amoeba risks are located at Moore River, and we ask our community members and visitors to take care in our waterways this summer,” he said.

According to the department, Naegleria fowleri amoeba can cause a rare but fatal infection, amoebic meningitis, when water containing active amoebae enters the nose and cause inflammation and destruction of brain tissue.

The amoebae thrive in water temperatures between 28C and 40C so any warm fresh water could potentially contain it.

Although there has not been a case of amoebic meningitis in WA since the 1980s, the department encouraged people not to become complacent.

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