Importance of testing bodies of water

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 9:29 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -A beach in Iowa is closed after a swimmer was infected with a brain-eating amoeba.

This happened after a Missouri man went swimming in Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County Iowa.

The beach is now closed until further notice.

According to the CDC the medical terms for this is Naegleria Fowleri, and while rare it can cause a brain infection that can lead to the destruction of brain tissue. The amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes and rivers.

The CDC says “...it usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). which is usually fatal. Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers.”

They say the easiest way to prevent the infection would be limiting the amount of water going up your nose.

While there have not been reported cases in South Dakota yet this year. Travis Entenman with Friends of the Big Sioux River says they have other water issues to test for.

“Eastern South Dakota, The Big Sioux River specifically we have high levels of E. coli and high levels of TSS. So, the TSS is what makes it cloudy,” said Travis Entenman, managing director of Friends of the Big Sioux River.

This can present dangers to those in the contaminated water.

“You can get sick and have health issues,” said Entenman.

He says if new pollutants such as these amoebas were to spread in surrounding areas, they would consider expanding their testing.

“If we had new pollutants come in that we found had a particular issue with the water body or the public health we would want to look at that as well. The state looks at larger amounts of pollutants,” said Entenman.

He says they routinely do tests within the 30-mile radius of Sioux Falls such as Wall Lake and Lake Alvin. Where they track and record each lake’s status on their website.

For more information on water testing, you can follow the links to their website at Water Quality Monitoring — FBSR (friendsofthebigsiouxriver.org)

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