Brain-Eating Amoeba Claims Life of 18 Year-Old in NC
Recently, 18 year old Lauren Seitz was enjoying a white water rafting ride at a North Carolina water park. At some point during the ride, the raft overturned; not an uncommon event for white water rafting. What is uncommon, though, is that Seitz contracted a brain-eating amoeba while under water. Unfortunately, the amoeba claimed her life. Cases of brain-eating amoeba fatalities are rare. According to the Center for Disease Control, between 1962 and 2015, there have only been 138 reported cases of PAM (Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis). If this is such a rare disease, then why did this happen? The North Carolina water park is man-made and, despite measures to keep the water clean with chlorine and UV radiation, surrounding soil and debris entered the water causing the contamination. In addition, due to its “natural” state the law does not require the same care as is required in other parks. However, it is likely this will change, given what happened to Seitz.
What is a Brain-Eating Amoeba?
The brain-eating amoeba is scientifically known as Naegleria fowleria. The amoeba typically lives in hot or warm fresh water like hot springs, rivers, and lakes as well as soil. Cases of PAM are usually reported in southern regions where water tends to be warmer, but there have been reports of the amoeba surfacing up North. People contract PAM most often in July and August in the Northern Hemisphere. You cannot contract the amoeba from drinking infected water. The most common way to catch Naegleria flowleria is through contaminated water entering the nasal passage or an open wound. If contaminated water enters the nose, it has a direct path to the brain. Infected water in an open wound is slower to affect the body, but it still requires just as serious medical attention. Treatments for PAM are invasive and survivors of the infection are few.
5 Ways to Avoid the Amoeba
There are some steps to take to try to avoid contracting the brain-eating amoeba.
- Avoid hot springs
- Swim in salt water or heavily chlorinated water
- Don’t swim in poorly maintained swimming pools
- Consider wearing a nose plug when swimming
- Don’t swim with an open wound
Have You or a Loved One Contracted PAM?
If you or someone you know has become a victim of the brain-eating amoeba due to poor maintenance of a swimming pool or water park, contact Lowenthal and Abrams immediately. No one should have to suffer loss of a family member due to PAM because of someone else’s negligence. Call our attorneys today for a free consultation.