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Whitewater Center Temporarily Closing Some Activities After CDC Tests

cdc_brain_eating_ameba.jpg
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have detected the presence of a microorganism at the U.S. National Whitewater Center that may be linked to a woman's death. The Whitewater Center is closing its whitewater channel after the preliminary tests, which found evidence of what's best known as the brain-eating ameba.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Dr. Marcus Plescia says the ameba itself is ubiquitous in warm, open bodies of water. The brain infection that can result from it is incredibly rare.

"This is a very common microorganism," he says. "If people go swimming in lakes and ponds and rivers around here, they are likely to come into contact with this. I think the Whitewater Center has acted very responsibly and this is really an abundance of caution, the decision to go ahead and shut down now."

Dr. Plescia says the CDC is doing more testing, and health officials will work with the Whitewater Center to determine next steps. All the activities there that do not involve the whitewater channel will remain open.

An 18-year-old from Ohio died of a brain infection caused by the ameba recently, and her only known exposure was in the whitewater channel. The CDC reports that despite how common the ameba is, only a handful of people are infected every year in all of the U.S.