A young boy has died from a brain-eating amoeba infection he contracted from the splash pad at the Don Misenhimer Park in Arlington, Texas. The boy was hospitalized at Cook Children’s Medical Center on September 5, 2021, with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a rare infection caused by Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating) amoeba. He passed away six days later, according to the City of Arlington.
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How Do You Get a Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection?
Naegleria fowleri is found throughout the world often in warm freshwater lakes and rivers, hot springs, and poorly maintained swimming pools. Infections, which result when the amoeba enter the body through the nose, are extremely rare and almost always fatal. Of the 148 cases reported in the U.S. from 1962 to 2019, only four people have survived, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Symptoms of an infection, which include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and seizures, usually develop within nine days of exposure.
Improper Maintenance at the Don Misenhimer Park Splash Pad
After being notified of the child’s illness on September 5, 2021, the City of Arlington closed the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad and all other public splash pads for the remainder of the year. The Tarrant County Public Health Department has received no other reports of illness.
City and county health officials collected water samples from the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad on September 10, 2021, and September 14, 2021, and sent them to the CDC for testing. Preliminary results were positive for Naegleria fowleri on September 16, 2021, and confirmed to show active Naegleria fowleri, on September 24, 2021.
Records show that Parks and Recreation employees did not consistently record or conduct required daily water quality testing at Don Misenhimer Park and The Beacon Recreation Center. And, when chlorine levels were measured and shown to be below the minimum level, records did not show what steps were taken to adjust chlorine levels and re-test to make sure they were adequate.
The records also show that chlorination readings were not documented at the Don Misenhimer splash pad on two of the three dates that the child visited the location in late August and early September.
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