A parasitic amoeba that can cause fatal brain infections has been found in Grand Teton National Park. On Monday, the park announced the presence of the parasite in their recent water samplings taken from some of the park’s geothermal features and run-off streams.
Spokeswoman Denise Germann says the infection risk for humans is low, but the amoeba Naegleria Fowleri can be fatal. The amoeba enters humans through the nose and then uses the brain as a food source. For that reason, the park is discouraging activities like diving and swimming in the infected waters.
Germann says pathogens like this one need fresh, warm water to survive. The amoeba was found in restricted areas of the park as well as Kelly Warm Springs, a popular soaking spot.
“Public entry in many of the geothermal features is prohibited,” says Germann, “specifically in the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. People do like to swim in there, they like to soak in them and that is not allowed in the actual geothermal feature.”
However, swimming in run-off streams and pools of these features is not prohibited, but Germann encourages people to be aware of the parasite so they can make educated decisions near the park’s waters.