Tragedy Strikes Little Rock: 16-Month-Old Boy Dies from Brain-Eating Amoeba
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – In a devastating incident, a 16-month-old boy from Little Rock, Arkansas has tragically lost his life to primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a rare brain infection caused by the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri. The Arkansas Department of Health has confirmed the death and is now investigating the source of the infection.
The young boy, Michael Alexander Pollock III, passed away on September 4th at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. It is believed that he contracted the infection while playing in a splash pad at the renowned Country Club of Little Rock. Authorities were quick to take action and collected samples from the pool and splash pad, which were then sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for analysis.
Tragically, the CDC confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri in one of the samples. This brain-eating amoeba thrives in warm, low-level fresh water and is commonly found in rivers, lakes, and inadequately chlorinated pools and splash pads. Inhalation of the amoeba through the nose is the primary mode of infection, and it should be noted that swallowing water contaminated with the amoeba does not pose a risk of infection.
While the infection caused by Naegleria fowleri is extremely rare, with only about three cases reported in the United States each year, the fatality rate is alarmingly high at 97%. The last known case of infection from the amoeba in Arkansas was in 2013, indicating the rarity of such incidents in the state. Nationally, the most recent case occurred just seven weeks ago in Georgia.
Symptoms of infection by the brain-eating amoeba include severe headache, fever, nausea, stiff neck, seizures, and even coma. Most cases are reported during the summer months, and it is the southern states that have seen the highest number of cases over the years. Texas and Florida, in particular, have reported the highest number of cases in the United States over the past 60 years, totaling 152.
The tragic death of Michael Alexander Pollock III has sent shockwaves through the community, prompting authorities to closely evaluate the safety measures at public water facilities. The investigation is ongoing, and the Arkansas Department of Health strongly advises the public to take precautions, such as avoiding shallow, warm, and stagnant water, to minimize the risk of infection.
This heart-wrenching incident serves as a somber reminder of the importance of maintaining proper water hygiene and safety measures, particularly during the summer months. As authorities work to ensure the public’s safety, it is our duty to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to prevent any further tragedy caused by this rare but devastating brain-eating amoeba.
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