MOOSE, WYOMING - A parasitic amoeba that causes deadly brain infections was recently detected in a popular spring in Grand Teton National Park. The amoeba, although uncommon in the Mountain West, was discovered in Kelly Warm Spring, a large gravel-lined pool approximately 100 yards long and 50 yards wide.
The Park has not closed the destination outright, but has issued a warning to any would-be swimmer: If you absolutely must take a dip, try not to get water up your nose. Warning signs have been updated to include reference to the amoeba.
The single-celled, microscopic Naegleria fowleri amoeba, which typically occurs in the Southern U.S., is the same parasite that recently killed an 11-year-old girl in South Carolina, though fatalities are generally uncommon.
Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Denise Germann told the Associated Press that, "the biggest risk with (the amoeba) is it travels through your nose. We definitely encourage people not to put your head in the water, jump in - anything that would help the amoeba travel to your brain."
Of course, the best course of action is to avoid soaking in the warm spring altogether. As with many such swimming holes, elevated levels of E. coli bacteria (which cause gastrointestinal illness) have also been detected.