ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A child has died after being infected with a rare brain-eating amoeba that was found at a Texas splash pad.
Officials in Arlington said Monday that the city and Tarrant County Public Health were notified on Sept. 5 that a child was hospitalized with primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare and often fatal infection.
The boy died on Sept. 11. Health officials closed all of the city’s public splash pads.
The boy had visited the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad several times in recent weeks and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the presence of the ameba in water samples from there on Friday.
A city review discovered lapses in water quality testing at several parks.
“Those gaps resulted in us not meeting our maintenance standards at our splash pads. All of the splash pads will remain closed until we have assurance that our systems are operating as they should, and we have confirmed a maintenance protocol consistent with city, county and state standards,” said Deputy City Manager Lemuel Randolph.
Officials say the risk of infection with this kind of ameba is very low, with only 34 reported infections in the U.S. between 2010 and 2019. It infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose, typically when swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, such as lakes and rivers.
In very rare instances, officials say the ameba has been identified in other sources, such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water.