WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 27, 2010, 07:28 AM

Minn. girl dies of very rare form of meningitis

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Health officials confirm a 7-year-old girl has died of a very rare form of meningitis, but they say the public is not at risk.

Annie Elizabeth Bahneman, of Stillwater, died Saturday, just four days after she fell sick.

The Minnesota Department of Health says the disease was caused by a common kind of amoeba (uh-MEE'-buh) associated with warm freshwater. In very rare cases it can cause a severe brain infection that's nearly always fatal.

The particular organism infects people by entering the body through the nose, generally when people swim. In the 10 years ending in 2007, 33 infections were reported in the U.S., mostly in southern states. By comparison, drowning deaths occur 1,200 times more often.

Health officials say the girl swam at several locations in the weeks before her death, and they note it's been an unusually warm summer.

Dr. Richard Danila, an epidemiologist with the department, says the case does not signal any increased risk to the public from any particular body of water, and people should not avoid swimming.