Amoeba lake tragedy: Hunter Boutain

Published: July 12, 2015

Amoeba lake tragedy: Hunter Boutain, Hunter Boutain has died. Boutain, 14, reportedly contracted a rare and severe brain infection from an amoeba organism while swimming recently in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County.

A family spokesperson released an official statement confirming his death at 3:15 Thursday: “Hunter’s condition deteriorated throughout the night and he was declared brain dead this morning. Hunter died surrounded by his family. It is a deeply emotional time for all us. We ask for privacy and prayers as we remember our beloved Hunter.”

He died at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis.


“This ameba lives in warm fresh water and this child happened to contract it in Lake Minnewaska, but it could have been any area lake where there’s warm fresh water,” said Sandy Tubbs, administrator of Horizon Public Health.

“We are urging people not to be afraid to enjoy area lakes,” Tubbs said. “This case is extremely rare.”

There were 35 cases of PAM reported in the U.S. in the last 10 years.

“To have 35 cases in Minnesota would be rare, but to have 35 in the nation is extremely rare,” Tubbs said.

The organism causing PAM can infect people by entering the body through the nose, according to MDH. Generally, it occurs when people get water up their nose from swimming and diving in warm freshwater.

“This is just a really rare occurrence we don’t want people to panic,” Tubbs said. “Continue to enjoy the lakes; it’s summer in Minnesota and that’s what we do.”


Thursday afternoon, District 206 Superintendent Julie Critz issued this statement: “This is a heartbreaking tragedy for the family and the entire 206 school community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this difficult time. Our Discovery and Alexandria Area High School crisis teams are working to implement their crisis plans and will support the emotional needs of the family, students and staff as they come to terms with this tragedy. Please continue to keep this family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”


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