The 'amoeba' threat in Oklahoma's waters

Thursday, June 19th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

As the weather heats up, many folks will be heading out to lakes to seek cool relief. But there's a hidden threat that lives in lake waters you should know about.

Microscopic amoebas thrive in stagnant water and can be dangerous. Two Oklahoma children have died from these amoebas in the past five years. Although it’s rare to be exposed, nearly everyone infected with the amoeba, dies within a week.

News on 6 Anchor Terry Hood tells us a Tulsa research lab is working on a treatment to give infected children a fighting chance.

3-year old Emerald Watson is one of the victims of this rare illness. And she's been an inspiration for the researchers working to fight it. Her picture hangs in their lab and is a constant reminder for Shannon Goswick of what her work is all about. Goswick says she identifies with the 3-year-old, because like Emerald, she spent her childhood summers swimming in Oklahoma lakes.

For the past three years, Goswick has been studying Emerald's killer. And the work has finally paid off. Her research team has developed a new, more effective treatment for the infection. Although she can't save Emerald, Goswick says she wants to save other children like her. "I hope that we might be able to increase survival of children who have been infected with this and hopefully no children will ever have to be infected with this.”

While researchers are working on a treatment, there's an easy way to prevent infection. When swimming in lakes or ponds, wear nose plugs.