An Arkansas boy has died from a rare brain-eating amoeba infection, which may have been contracted on a splash pad at a country club, according to county health officials and the coroner.
The victim died from an infection with Naegleria fowleri, which “destroys brain tissue, causing brain swelling and, in some cases, death,” according to the Arkansas Department of Health. press release Thursday.
Nagleria fowleri An amoeba that lives in mud and warm freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds, and hot springs. In rare cases, people have acquired Naegleria fowleri infections from recreational waters that do not have adequate levels of chlorine, such as swimming pools, splash pads, or surf parks, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Naegleria fowleri infection is rare. In the United States only about three people a year are affected, but the results are often fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the Arkansas case, a 16-month-old boy died on September 4 after spending several days in the hospital, Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs told CNN on Friday.
The state health department conducted a test and found that the victim may have been exposed to a splash pad at the Country Club of Little Rock.
Several samples from the pool and splash pad were sent to the CDC for evaluation, according to the statement. The CDC found that a sample from the splash pad contained possible Naegleria fowleri and other samples are pending.
The Country Club of Little Rock has voluntarily closed its pool and splash pad and officials say there is no danger to the public. CNN reached out to the country club but did not receive a response.
The Arkansas Department of Health has not confirmed further information about the case, a spokeswoman said in an email to CNN on Friday.
The last case of Naegleria fowleri in Arkansas was in 2013, according to the state health department.
In 2021, a 3-year-old boy died from a Nagleria foleri brain infection. Spend time on the splash pad, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In that case, Texas public health officials found that the splash pad water was “recycled and not properly disinfected.”
According to the CDC, this type of amoeba enters the body through the nose, usually when people swim, dive, or immerse their heads in fresh water.
The amoeba travels to the brain and destroys brain tissue, causing an almost always fatal infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
Naegleria fowleri infection is not transmitted from person to person.
PAM symptoms usually start five days after infection, but according to the CDC, they can start anywhere from one to 12 days.
Other symptoms include headache, fever, nausea or vomiting. The latter include confusion, neck stiffness, inattention to surroundings and people, seizures, delusions, and coma.
Once the disease begins, it progresses rapidly and usually results in death within five days.
The CDC says the best way to prevent infections when swimming in freshwater is to keep the water out of your nose. It also suggests avoiding removing sediment from the bottom of freshwater, where amoebas can thrive.