Boy dies of brain-eating amoeba after visiting Texas splash pad

A boy was killed by a brain-eating amoeba he picked up while playing on a Texas splash pad, authorities said.

Health officials determined that the unidentified child “likely” contracted Naegleria fowleri during a visit to Don Misenhimer Park in Arlington, prompting the city to shut down all public splash pads for the remainder of the year, authorities said.

Deputy City Director Lemuel Randolph said “gaps” in the water inspection systems were identified as part of an investigation into the boy’s illness.

“Those gaps resulted in us not meeting our maintenance standards on our splash pads,” Randolph said in a statement.

“All splash pads will remain closed until we are confident that our systems are operating as they should and we have confirmed a maintenance protocol consistent with city, county and state standards.”

The boy was hospitalized on September 5 with a rare infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis and died on September 11 in the city of Arlington. said in a press release. He had visited the park three times in late August and early September, according to the statement.

The City of Arlington has closed all public splash pads for the remainder of the year.
The City of Arlington has closed all public splash pads for the remainder of the year.
AP Photo / LM Otero

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the presence of the amoeba on the splash pad and determined that it was likely the source of the child’s exposure, the city said.

Records from the city’s splash pads, including Don Misenhimer, showed that Parks and Recreation employees did not record or perform the required daily water quality tests, the statement said.

Inspection records reportedly found that chlorine levels were not documented on the splash pad on two of the three days the boy visited there.

Only 34 such infections were reported between 2010-19, the city said, citing data from the CDC. It typically enters people’s bodies through the nose while swimming in untreated fresh water, according to the statement.

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