A 10-year-old girl from Texas died after contracting a rare infection from a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a river. Lily Mae Avant, the little girl took a swimming trip to a nearby river over the Labor Day holiday weekend earlier in September after which she suffered headache and high fever. The doctors first suspected a common viral infection but as her health deteriorated, she was immediately taken to the emergency room of Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth where she was treated for bacterial and viral meningitis.
A family member of the 10-year old posted on Facebook expressing how overwhelming the week had been for the whole family. The post read, “Words can not begin to express how overwhelming this past week has been for our family. We have been flooded by your love and support and feel incredibly humbled by how many lives have been impacted by our sweet and sassy, Lily Mae. Our beautiful girl is completely healed and in the arms of Jesus. Lily changed lives. Lily saved lives (in the physical and spiritual sense). She brought unity to a divided nation. Which, is just like her! She loved everyone she came in contact with, and we see you all felt that, via news reports or social media. She taught us so much more in her ten years than we ever taught her.”
Lily was put in a coma so that the doctors could treat the swelling in her brain. The family kept updating on her conditions through a Facebook group, #LilyStrong. Many netizens paid their condolences. One of the Facebook users commented, “So very sad for your loss but so thankful for the wisdom and impact Lily made and will continue too! Praying for her strength and comfort during this time”. Another user commented feeling sorry for Lily Avant's family's and friends' loss and claimed that she is going to be in their thoughts and prayers. Lily's fight for life attracted supports from across the world.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported that the girl was suffering from Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). The infection is caused by a brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria Fowleri. The symptoms of the infection typically appear within a week after the amoeba enters the nose and travels to the brain where it causes PAM. The doctors of the hospital claimed that the “brain-eating” amoeba is usually found in freshwater bodies such as ponds, lakes, and rivers. The doctors also reported that cases like this are extremely rare even though millions of people swim in lakes and rivers every year.