Martin Health Department warning: potential fatal infection at proposed Extreme Sports Park

Martin County Health Department (Stuart)

Attorney Sherlock’s research provides disturbing facts:  Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) organisms live in lakes like the one on the Extreme Sports site.  The amoeba attack the brain by entering the body through the nostrils, which is why the Health Department warns those who participate in lake water sports activities to wear noseplugs.

Supporters of the project as a place for kids to have wholesome fun should be aware of the dangers of PAM — especially with respect to children.

At least three deaths have been reported among wake-boarders in Orlando area lakes in recent years.  Last year, a 16-year-old Brevard County girl died after contracting PAM while swimming in the St. Johns River.

The Naegleria fowleri amoeba is present in almost all freshwater ponds and lakes and is especially prevalent when water temperatures rise above 80 degrees.  Health authorities raise warnings about PAM every summer.  The risk is greatest between July and September.

The amoeba does not live in saltwater or maintained chlorinated pools.  Victims are usually young, active and previously healthy.

The Extreme Sports applicant’s mother complained that residents who suggested an alternate location for the water ski park within the urban boundary want to “poison” children.  BOCC Chair Ed Ciampi said the lake on the alternate site was chemically polluted.

However, neither Ciampi nor Martin County staff mentioned the risk of PAM cited by the Martin County Health Department for the Extreme Sports property lake.  Staff has acknowledged receipt of the Health Department memo (see memo below) but decided not to mention the risk of PAM in any of the many discussions about the Extreme Sports project.

In 2010, Stuart News columnist Ed Killer reported that the only way to ensure protection from PAM is to avoid swimming in waters that have the amoeba. He quoted Bob Washam of the Martin County Health Department as saying the amoeba is “probably in a lot” of freshwater ponds and lakes in the County and parents should not let their children dive or swim in them. “I hate to hear about it happening to child,” Washam said. “It’s always fast and fatal.”







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