A tragic incident occurred at a country club in Little Rock, Arkansas, where a 16-month-old boy died after being exposed to a rare brain-eating amoeba at a splash pad. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) released a statement confirming that the child had contracted a Naegleria fowleri infection, which causes brain swelling and, in some cases, death. The boy passed away on September 4th after several days in the hospital.
Health officials inspected and tested samples from the splash pad and nearby pool, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that the child’s exposure to the amoeba originated from the splash pad sample. The presence of viable Naegleria Fowleri was found in the sample. However, results from other samples taken have yet to be confirmed by the CDC.
In response to the incident, the Country Club of Little Rock closed its pool and splash pad. The ADH has assured the public that there is no ongoing risk related to this exposure.
Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled organism that typically resides in warm freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds, and hot springs. It can also be found in splash pads and pools if disinfection levels are inadequate and there is soil contamination. Symptoms of infection include severe headaches, nausea, fever, vomiting, seizures, and coma, often appearing around five days after exposure.
According to the ADH, the last known Naegleria fowleri infection in Arkansas was in 2013. Sadly, this is not the first time a brain infection caused by this amoeba from exposure at a splash pad has resulted in the death of a child in the United States. In 2021, a three-year-old in Texas died from a Naegleria fowleri infection, which was traced back to a splash pad with inadequate disinfection measures.
It is essential for public health officials and operators of recreational water facilities to ensure proper disinfection and maintenance to prevent such tragic incidents from occurring.
– Arkansas Department of Health (ADH)
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)