Girl in central Texas dies after contracting brain-eating amoeba

A Texas girl reportedly fell ill after swimming in the Brazos River. (Source: Photo by Elliot Wilson/file/KWTX/Gray News)
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BOSQUE COUNTY, Texas (KWTX/Gray News) - The family of Valley Mills Elementary School student Lily Mae Avant, who was fighting for her life after contracting a brain-eating amoeba, said the 10-year-old died early Monday.

Officials believe she got the disease after swimming in the Brazos River over the Labor Day weekend. Lily came down with a headache and a fever a week later after swimming in a pool.

Her health quickly deteriorated.

She was taken first to a local hospital and then was transferred to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.

"The doctors told us there is nothing more that they can do for her and they have exhausted all resources due to the fact that this is such a fatal disease and it claims its victims so quickly,” her aunt Crystal Warren said Friday.

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed last week that a Bosque County resident has primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a brain infection caused by the so-called brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which is typically found in freshwater bodies such as ponds, lakes and rivers.

“The amoeba is present in freshwater across Texas and elsewhere in the US, and there’s no particular body of water that would present a greater risk," agency spokesman Chris Van Deusen said. "Cases are extremely rare, despite the millions of people who swim in lakes and rivers every year,”

To reduce your risk of infection:

  • Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels
  • Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, or hot springs
  • Avoid putting your head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters
  • Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm, freshwater areas
  • Use only sterile, distilled, or lukewarm previously boiled water for nasal irrigation or sinus flushes (e.g., Neti Pot usage, ritual nasal ablution, etc.)

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