With the water in local lakes and rivers reaching temperatures well into the 80’s, there is a danger that we all need to be aware of – Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). A tiny one-celled organism found in freshwater sediment called Naegleria fowleri thrives in the warm water temperatures that we are experiencing this summer. It enters through the nose and can migrate to the brain where it quickly kills in just days. Thankfully, this infection is a relatively rare occurrence, but it is always fatal. Just this past week, a child died of this infection in South Carolina and there have been a couple cases in Minnesota in recent years.
To protect yourself when practicing kayak rescues, wet exits, rolling, etc. you should wear nose plugs or a dive mask. Ear plugs are a good idea, too. You should also avoid dredging up the sediment.
Let’s take advantage of the warm water to get in lots of practice on those important safety skills for paddling. We just need to be aware of the risks and take precautions. Let’s all be safe this summer.