The young boy’s family says he died of brain-eating amoeba after a holiday at a campsite in North Florida last month, local television WJXT reported. Tanner Lake Wall, 13, of Tent, Florida, was at the vacation spot, which also includes a water park and lake, before suddenly falling ill days later, according to his parents.
“He was just the man you always wanted to be,”
Wall’s parents took him to a hospital in Gainesville, Florida, where doctors placed the teen on a ventilator and gave the family a grim diagnosis. “They said, ‘He has a parasitic amoeba and no treatment,'” his father told the station. Wall was fired from life support on August 2 after he showed no brain activity.
Wall’s parents hope their tragic story will inform other families of the dangers of this. potentially fatal infection. “So the parents are aware, maybe they haven’t thought about it, because I can tell you for sure that we are not,” Travis Wall said. “We grew up swimming in lakes and streams and things like that.”
The CDC says Naegleria fowleri – otherwise known as the “brain-eating amoeba” – can cause a brain infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. Amoebae are usually found in freshwater, such as lakes, rivers and springs.
The CDC warns that if contaminated water enters a person’s nose and brain, an infection can occur. Symptoms begin as severe frontal headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting; Symptoms can then progress to neck stiffness, seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations and coma.
Signs of infection usually begin a few days after swimming or other exposure of the nose to contaminated water. People die within one to 18 days after the onset of symptoms. However, the CDC says people cannot be infected by ingesting contaminated water.
The Wall family told the WJXT that they wanted warning signs to be posted to inform others about the dangers of swimming in warm waters during the summer. The station did not identify the campsite that Wall’s family said it had visited because officials had not yet positively monitored Wall’s illness.
“People need to be aware from July to the second part of September, with the hot water, that this amoeba can come to your nose. It can be diving. It can be swimming, water sports, skiing, things like that,” Travis Wall explained. .
According to the CDC, infections with Naegleria fowleri are rare. Between 2009 and 2018, 34 infections were registered in the United States. In most cases, the CDC notes, people were infected with recreational water, while three were infected after performing nasal irrigation using contaminated tap water. One person was infected by contaminated tap water used on a sliding backyard slider.