Teenager Hunter Boutain contracted a potentially deadly brain infection over the weekend after swimming in a Minnesota lake.
According to the Minnesota Health Department, the 14-year-old was swimming in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County, Minnesota, when the primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, infected his brain. The disease is caused by an amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri and can be contracted by a swimmer who inhales contaminated water, the Daily Mail reports.
Often, the infection is lethal.
Symptoms of PAM include headache, vomiting, stiff neck and fever. Typically, the symptoms appear around five days after a person has been exposed. More severe cases can lead to confusion, seizures and hallucinations.
Most PAM cases end in death within five days.
According to a CaringBridge page set up by Boutain’s family, the teenager is currently unresponsive and breathing with the help of a respirator.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Boutain was in critical condition at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Sky News reports.
“We are praying for a miracle for this rascal,” Bryan Boutain, the boy's uncle, wrote.
Experts noted that the best way to avoid becoming infected with PAM is for swimmers to keep their heads out of freshwater areas and use nose clips while swimming.
Since 2001, 40 cases of PAM were reported in the United States. Two of them were reported in Minnesota.
Photo Credit: Sky News