Kerry Stoutenburgh of New York died after contracting Naegleria fowleri, commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba,” while swimming in Cecil County waters.
Stoutenburgh was on vacation in Maryland with her family at the time, according to a GoFundMe page set up in her honor.
The Cecil County Health Department said Naegleria fowleri naturally occurs in bodies of fresh, warm water. The infection is contracted when the amoeba enters the human body through the nose and travels to the brain, causing a rare brain infection known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
While the risk of infection is low, according to health officials, area swimmers are advised to avoid going under water in fresh water. Swimmers should hold their noses or wear nose clips when jumping into any river, lake or stream.