Child dies of brain-eating amoeba likely contracted at Texas splash pad, officials say

A Texas youngster who died after contracting a uncommon, brain-eating amoeba was likely contaminated at a neighborhood splash pad, the City of Arlington announced in a press launch Monday. Records from the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad confirmed workers didn’t persistently monitor water high quality ranges at the time of the kid’s visits to the park, the town stated.

On September 5, native well being officials have been notified {that a} youngster was hospitalized at Cook Children’s Medical Center with “primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare and often fatal infection caused by the Naegleria fowleri ameba,” the press launch stated.

The youngster died in a hospital on September 11. Their title has not been launched. 

Tarrant County Public Health decided the kid was likely uncovered to water containing the Naegleria fowleri ameoba both at the household’s house or at the park’s splash pad, the town’s assertion stated. On Friday, the CDC confirmed the presence of energetic Naegleria fowleri amoeba in water samples from the splash pad and from the system that provides water to the realm that have been taken between September 10 and September 14, main officials to conclude that the kid was likely uncovered there.

Upon inspecting the park’s data, metropolis officials discovered that workers didn’t doc water high quality readings on two of the three days the kid visited the splash pad in late August and early September, the assertion stated. Levels of chlorine, a chemical used to disinfect the water at the pad, have been throughout the state’s requirement two days earlier than the kid final visited, however a studying the day after the go to confirmed the degrees had fallen beneath the requirement, in response to the assertion. Chlorine was added to the water system at that point, the park’s data present.

Amebic meningoencephalitis
Using the direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) staining approach, this photomicrograph depicts the histopathologic traits related to a case of amebic meningoencephalitis as a consequence of Naegleria fowleri parasites. 

Getty Images

The splash pad has been closed since officials have been notified of the kid’s hospitalization, and the investigation is ongoing. City officials are reviewing “splash pad equipment and supplies, maintenance, and water quality inspection policies, procedures and training to ensure safe recreational spaces for residents and visitors,” the assertion stated. 

All of Arlington’s splash pads had handed their annual inspection at the beginning of the summer time. However, data from the Don Misenhimer Park and one other Arlington park confirmed workers “did not consistently record, or in some cases did not conduct, water quality testing that is required prior to the facilities opening each day,” together with checking for chlorine, the press launch stated.

The metropolis’s investigation additionally discovered that in sure cases when chlorine stage readings have been beneath minimal necessities, workers didn’t file how a lot chlorine they manually added to the water system. “The logs also did not consistently include a follow-up reading to confirm that the water chlorination levels were at acceptable levels after treatment,” the press launch stated.

“We have identified gaps in our daily inspection program,” Deputy City Manager Lemuel Randolph stated. “Those gaps resulted in us not meeting our maintenance standards at our splash pads. All of the splash pads will remain closed until we have assurance that our systems are operating as they should, and we have confirmed a maintenance protocol consistent with city, county and state standards.”

City officials stated that the danger of an infection from the amoeba is “very low,” noting that the CDC says there have solely been 34 reported instances of an infection between 2010 and 2019. 

“N. fowleri infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose. This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, such as lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, the ameba has been identified in other sources, such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water,” the assertion stated. 

Arlington officials stated the town’s consuming water was not affected.

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