Girl contracts brain-eating parasite while swimming in Brazos River

Texas girl, 10, left in coma after contracting rare brain-eating parasite while swimming in the Brazos River over Labor Day

  • Lily Avant was placed in a medically induced coma after her condition deteriorated following complaints of a headache and fever on September 8
  • She is understood to have contracted the parasite known as Naegleria fowleri  
  • Lily had been swimming in the waters behind her home in Whitney
  • ‘We hope we got to her in time. She is a fighter’, her father John Crawson said 
  • Lily’s family say they are praying for her to be the fifth survivor of the infection 
  • Naegleria fowleri causes a brain infection that leads to the destruction of tissue 
  • It infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose 

A 10-year-old Texas girl is fighting for her life in hospital after contracting a rare brain-eating parasite while swimming in the Brazos River over Labor Day. 

Lily Avant was placed in a medically induced coma after her condition deteriorated following complaints of a headache and fever on September 8. 

The youngster is understood to have contracted the parasite known as Naegleria fowleri after swimming in the waters behind her home in Whitney, and has now been in Fort Worth hospital for several days. 

Her father John Crawson told Today: ‘We hope we got to her in time. She is a fighter. She is stronger than anybody I know.’

Little Lily’s family held a vigil on Friday evening, praying for her to be the fifth survivor of the deadly infection.

The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, causes a brain infection that leads to the destruction of tissue. In its early stages, symptoms may be similar to bacterial meningitis.

The organism does not cause illness if swallowed, but can be deadly if forced through the nose.   

Lily Avant, pictured, is said to have contracted the rare brain-eating parasite while swimming in the Brazos River over Labor Day. Her condition deteriorated following complaints of a fever

Lily is understood to have contracted the parasite known as Naegleria fowleri 

The youngster is understood to have contracted the parasite known as Naegleria fowleri after swimming in the waters behind her home in Whitney, pictured 

Relative Wendy Scott told KXAS: ‘The water is in Lily’s backyard. She has swum in there day in, day out. The day she was in there, we had 40 people in there with her.

‘They got it checked out. There were several viruses going around the school. It was assumed it’s a virus because the symptoms are exactly the same, so she was sent home.

‘She was brought into the emergency room on Tuesday when she woke up unresponsive. She was eyes open, she was there, but she wasn’t speaking. Nothing.

‘We thought if the water is flowing, it’s safe, but that’s clearly not the case.’

Scott added Saturday: ‘We’re at the point where the doctors have exhausted their resources. Lily is still fighting, she’s still saying strong. 

‘We’re just waiting for God to step in and perform a miracle. She is in stable condition, she is still in the ICU at this time, and that’s basically where we’re at. We just need lots of prayers.’

Little Lily’s family held a vigil on Friday evening, praying for her to be the fifth survivor of the deadly infection. The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, causes a brain infection that leads to the destruction of tissue. In its early stages, symptoms may be similar to bacterial meningitis

‘The water is in Lily’s backyard. She has swum in there day in, day out’, a relative said 


The infection is very rare with the single-celled organism commonly found in warm freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, as well as in soil. ‘Lily is still fighting, she’s still saying strong’, relatives have said 

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services said: ‘We average less than one per year in Texas. However, it is extremely serious and almost always fatal. Since it’s so rare, we don’t know why a few people get sick while millions who swim in natural bodies of water don’t.’ 

Lily’s mum Laci wrote on Facebook: ‘I don’t have the words to tell you all how much we appreciate every single one of you.

‘We thank you all for every single thing that everyone has been doing to help us fight this fight.

‘We are truly blessed to have so many people fighting along with us for our baby girl.’

WHAT IS NAEGLERIA FOWLERI?

Naegleria fowleri is commonly referred to as the ‘brain-eating amoeba’ as it can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

The infection is very rare with the single-celled organism commonly found in warm freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, as well as in soil.

It usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal.

Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers.

In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose.

You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria.

Source: CDC

 

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