An infection that took place at a country club splash pad is being blamed for the death of a 16-month-old Arkansas boy.
Michael Alexander Pollock III died on Sept. 4 at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, according to ArkansasOnline.
His obituary said that “Michael’s time on Earth was short, [but] he touched the hearts of family, friends, and even strangers he came across with his illuminating smile and playfulness.”
The Pulaski County coroner said primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba, was the cause of death.
The state Department of Health confirmed that the amoeba, which bears the scientific name of Naegleria fowleri, caused the death.
The victim was most likely exposed to the amoeba at a splash pad at the Country Club of Little Rock.
The Health Department representative Danyelle McNeill said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the amoeba was found in water samples from the splash pad.
“The department has been in contact with the Country Club of Little Rock and they have been cooperative in inquires with [us],” the Health Department said in a release.
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The CDC said the amoeba “is commonly called the ‘brain-eating amoeba’ because it can cause a brain infection when water containing the amoeba goes up the nose.”
“Only about three people in the United States get infected each year, but these infections are usually fatal,” the CDC said.
The CDC noted that “People become infected when water containing Naegleria fowleri enters the nose, usually while swimming. People do not get infected by drinking contaminated water.”
The CDC said that of the 157 infections between 1962 and 2022, only four people survived. Texas and Florida account for almost half of the infections, the CDC wrote, adding that most infections take place in southern states.
The CDC said the amoeba “disproportionately affects males and children. The reason for this distribution pattern is unclear but may reflect the types of water activities (such as diving or watersports) that might be more common among young boys.”
The amoeba normally lives in warm, freshwater environments, according to the CDC, but can also be found in swimming pools when the water is not sufficiently chlorinated.
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