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Stillwater girl dies from rare infection after swimming

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Health officials say a rare amebic infection killed a 7-year-old Stillwater girl, apparently after she went swimming.

Annie Bahneman died Wednesday, just days after she fell ill. Health authorities said they traced her illness to a warm-water amoeba that causes very rare infections, but which is nearly always fatal.

Health officials say the organism, known as Naegleria fowleri, is more common in the southern U.S., where it has been identified from California to Florida and as far north as Missouri. But the Centers for Disease Control said the organism might be found in any fresh water in the U.S.

The amoeba usually infects swimmers through the nose, and then causes a rapid and usually fatal brain infection. Infections are thought to be very rare, with only 33 deaths reported in the U.S. between 1998 and 2007.

Department of Health officials say Bahneman had gone swimming in several locations and they weren't sure where the infection might have originated.