US water park closed after brain-eating amoeba kills visitor

A Texas water resort is closed for public as health officials are testing water samples after the death of a visitor who came in contact with a ‘brain-eating amoeba’ in the park’s wave pool last month, agencies report.

Six days after visiting Waco’s BSR Cable Park, Fabrizio Stabile, 29, of New Jersey fell ill while mowing his lawn. On Sept 21, he died.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the illness is not contagious and water sample are being tested for the single-cell amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, above.

The amoeba is found in warm and untreated freshwater. It infects people through the nose before entering the brain and affecting their central nervous system. Its fatality rate is 97 per cent.

The symptoms of the brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) include fever, headache, and nausea. People who suffer from PAM usually die within five days of the initial symptoms.

In Stabile’s case, it started with a severe headache. Soon he could not speak coherently or get out of his bed. In hospital, doctors found Naegleria fowleri in his spinal fluid.

Texas has reported nine cases of PAM since 2005. The last reported case was in 2016. Currently, most victims are given an experimental drug called miltefosine.

Health officials have advised people to keep their nose above water or use a nose clip while visiting water bodies.