LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Public health officials have reported an Arkansas resident died after exposure to a rare brain-eating amoeba infection at a Little Rock splash pad.
The Arkansas Department of Health stated Thursday that the unidentified person died after exposure to Naegleria Fowleri, a rare amoeba that can cause a brain-tissue-destroying infection.
KARK 4 News & FOX 16 News has confirmed that the victim in this case was a child.
ADH officials said they had investigated the death and determined the infection came from a splash-pad at the Country Club of Little Rock. Samples from the pad were sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which confirmed one sample had contained the disease.
The club has voluntarily closed the splash pad and pool, and both remain closed, officials stated. ADH officials reminded that Naegleria Fowleri could not infect anyone who swallowed it and cannot be spread from person to person.
The infection caused by exposure to Naegleria Fowleri is called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM. Symptoms of PAM include severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting which then escalates to stiff neck, seizures, and coma that can lead to death. The CDC reports that PAM is almost always fatal.
Approximately three cases of these infections happen in the United State each year, and ADH officials said the last case of infection in Arkansas was in 2013. In that case, 12-year-old Kali Hardig was hospitalized for 55 days but was a rare survivor of the disease.
According to the CDC, there have been a total of six cases of Naegleria fowleri infection reported in Arkansas between 1962 and 2022.