In a follow-up to a status report yesterday morning, it is reported that 14-year-old Hunter Boutain has died at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis yesterday.

A family spokesperson released an official statement confirming his death at 3:15 Thursday:

Hunter’s condition deteriorated throughout the night and he was declared brain dead this morning. Hunter died surrounded by his family. It is a deeply emotional time for all us. We ask for privacy and prayers as we remember our beloved Hunter.”

Naegleria fowleri Life Cycle/CDC
Naegleria fowleri Life Cycle/CDC

Hunter is the second Naegleria fowleri infection, primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) fatality in the US this year. A California woman died earlier this month.

Health officials determined that the child developed the infection after swimming at Lake Minnewaska in Pope County.

Horizon Public Health in Pope County says “With any freshwater recreational activity, there is a low-level risk of infection from an ameba called Naegleria fowleri. This ameba is commonly found in fresh waters and soils worldwide so many persons are exposed to it daily as they enjoy water related activities.  Very rarely, it can cause a severe brain infection, Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). Despite the fact that it is extremely rare, when it occurs, it is devastating.”

We have been in touch with state health officials regarding the potential risk for the general population. An individual’s risk of contracting this disease from area lakes and streams is low.  In conversation with the Minnesota Department of Health, there is no greater risk in Lake Minnewaska than anywhere else, despite the development of this case. Persons do not need to avoid partaking in summer activities on Lake Minnewaska.  Although city officials temporarily closed the beaches last evening while gathering information, the beaches have been reopened.

It is likely that a low risk of Naegleria infection will always exist with recreational use of Minnesota’s freshwater lakes and rivers.  It is important to remember that the occurrence of PAM is extremely rare. Despite hundreds of millions of recreational water activities each year, only 35 cases of PAM have been reported in the United States in the last 10 years.