Toddler, 1, dies from brain-eating amoeba that he caught from contaminated water at a SPLASH PARK in Arkansas

  • The toddler suffered severe neurological damage brough on by the amoeba
  • Health officials confirmed the amoeba was lurking in the country club’s water
  • READ MORE:  Nevada boy dies from rare brain eating amoeba from Lake Mead

Michael Alexander Pollock III died on September 4 after being exposed to the brain-eating amoeba

Michael Alexander Pollock III died on September 4 after being exposed to the brain-eating amoeba

An Arkansas toddler has died after being infected with a rare brain-eating amoeba after being exposed in a Little Rock country club.

The 16-month-old was playing at the country club’s splash pad when he was infected with Naegleria fowleri, a water-dwelling amoeba that causes inflammation in the brain and destroys tissue, killing nearly 100 percent of its victims.

The Arkansas Department of Health confirmed through lab testing that the splash pad where the young boy and likely many other children were playing contained traces of the offending amoeba forcing the exclusive club to shut down its pool and water playground.

The state coroner said the child, Michael Alexander Pollock III, died the evening of September 4 at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

He is believed to be one of five victims of the brain-eating infection this year, the most recent being a Texas resident who died after swimming in an Austin lake

The state health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing confirmed the splashpad at the club contained the amoeba

The little boy had been playing in the splashpad when he was exposed but the country club has also shut down its pool. The health department has not yet confirmed that pool water samples also contained  the amoeba 

The Health Department said there is no ongoing threat to the public and the pool area remains closed to this day

Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled microorganism that lives in warm freshwater, the type that spurts out of water fountains on splash pads.

When the parasite gets into the nose and travels through the nasal passages, it reaches the brain where it feeds on brain tissue, leading to severe neurological damage. The infection is called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

It is not clear how much time elapsed between Michael’s exposure to the brain-wasting organism and his death, though the infection typically progresses quickly. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms come on between one and 12 days after swimming in contaminated water, and death typically follows about five days later.

Symptoms resemble a virus at first, including headache, nausea, fever, and stiff neck. But they quickly progress to more severe neurological issues including seizures, hallucinations, coma, and often death.

Just 157 cases of PAM were confirmed from 1962 to 2022, but only four people survived.

The Arkansas Department of Health, which sent water samples to the CDC for testing, said: ‘The CDC has reported one splash pad sample as confirmed to have viable Naegleria fowleri. The remaining samples are still pending. The department has been in contact with the Country Club of Little Rock, and they have been cooperative in inquiries with the ADH.’

While generally very rare, there are believed to have been at least five other casualties in the US this year, the others being a person in Texas, a resident in Georgia, a two-year-old boy in Nevada, a man in Florida all died after contracting the disease.

The last case reported in Arkansas was in 2013 when a 12-year-old girl named Kali Hardig who contracted the infection from a water park, and survived.

What is Naegleria fowleri? 

Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that ‘literally eats the brain tissue,’ according to Dr Anjan Debnath, a parasitic disease expert at the University of California, San Diego.

It thrives in warm climates in freshwater including hot springs and lakes.

Improper water treatment in pools, private ponds and even tap water can lead to deadly exposure to the amoeba as well. 

The amoeba travels up the nose where it has a direct route to the brain. 

Once a person’s olfactory nerve in the nose is exposed, symptoms typically come on within one to nine days.

Those who are infected will usually die within five days of symptoms first appearing. 

Early stage symptoms resemble those of the flu.

Symptoms as the infection worsens include severe neurological issues like seizures, hallucinations, confusion, and coma. Toddler, 1, dies from brain-eating amoeba that he caught from contaminated water at a SPLASH PARK in Arkansas

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