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A rare brain-eating amoeba is being blamed for the death last weekend of an 18-year-old Ohio woman who had recently been rafting at a Charlotte, North Carolina water sports center.

Lauren Seitz is believed to have contracted the extremely rare water-borne infection a few weeks ago while whitewater rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. 

Officials believe Seitz caught Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) while rafting. The infection comes from an amoeba found in warm freshwater lakes and other bodies of water during summer

The CDC and local officials are conducting tests on the water to make sure it's safe, but the water center remains open.

The amoeba can be fatal when it goes up a person's nose. Officials recommend precautions like nose plugs or simply staying above the water.

The water center, which is a popular destination for U.S. Olympians to train, released a statement on Seitz's death, saying in part:

[...] despite every measure we take, there is always a risk of injury or harm based on the very nature of what we do and who we are. There are open bodies of water and they are exposed to naturally occurring organisms such as this particular amoeba. Based on the fact that the CDC has informed us of the extremely low risk of an infection at the Center, along with the water treatment precautions taken, I am very comfortable that the Center remains responsible and reasonable in every respect as it relates to this particular health risk and all other risks associated with the Center.

The disease, which infects less than 10 people a year, is incurable, with only three people known to have survived it. There have been about 130 cases of the infection dating back to 1937.

On its website the 1,100-acre water center says that it "offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for all ages and skill levels. Guests can enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lines, ropes courses, a canopy tour, and mountain biking on our 25+ mile trail system."


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