A 10-year-old girl has died after contracting a rare brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a Texas river.
Lily Mae Avant contracted the parasite after swimming with her family in the Brazos river near Waco. She began having a headache, and her family then reported a fever. Days later, Lily began acting strangely, before becoming incoherent and unresponsive.
She was then flown to the Cook Children’s Medical Centre in Fort Worth.
Her school, Valley Mills Elementary School, confirmed her death on Facebook on Monday, saying the school district “was deeply saddened by the loss of Lily Avant. Lily was an absolute blessing to our elementary school. She was an outstanding student, but more importantly, Lily was an incredible person and friend to all”.
According to CNN, it added: “She has and will continue to touch lives around the nation,” the school wrote.
Doctors concluded she contracted Naegleria fowleri, a rare but deadly single celled organism that is often found in warm fresh water.Those locations can include rivers, hot springs, or lakes, where the amoeba is known to find its way up through the nose and into the victim’s brain.
There have just been 145 cases of the amoeba in the United States since it was first discovered in the country in the 1960s, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
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But, the disease has an incredibly high fatality rate, with 97 per cent of those who become infected dying from the infection. Just four of those 145 have reportedly survived.