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What is primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM)?

Primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, is a rare, almost always fatal disease caused by an ameba (naegleria fowleri) found in all untreated, fresh surface water and in soil. Most common during the summer, the ameba thrives in low levels of freshwater that is stagnant or slow-moving and is warmer than 80 degrees.

The infection occurs when water containing the organism is forced into the nasal passages – usually from diving or jumping into water or water skiing. The ameba makes its way into the brain and spinal cord, destroying brain tissue. Although PAM is rare – affecting about one to three people a year in Texas – those infected usually succumb to the disease within a week.

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The information provided on this site is intended as background on water within the Brazos River basin. There should be no expectation that this information is all encompassing, complete or in any way examines every aspect of this very complex natural resource.

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