Officials reported Monday Sept. 27 that a Texas child died after contracting a rare brain-eating amoeba detected in a Texas splash where the boy had visited, and that an investigation revealed gaps in water-quality testing at several parks.
According to Tarrant County Public Health officials, on Sept. 5 a child had been hospitalized with primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare and often fatal infection caused by the naegleria fowleri ameba, which is often fatal to those who contract it. The boy was later pronounced dead at the hospital on Sept. 11, ABC News reported.
After the boy’s death, officials launched an investigation and closed all of the city’s public splash pads.
On Friday, city officials announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) verified the presence of the ameba in water samples taken from the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad.
A review “identified gaps in our daily inspection program,” Deputy City Manager Lemuel Randolph said. “Those gaps resulted in us not meeting our maintenance standards at our splash pads.”
Employees failed to report or conduct the required daily water quality tests at two of the four splash pads at Don Misenhimer Park and the Beacon Recreational Center, according to records obtained by local TV affiliate KTLA5.
Water chlorination readings were not reported on two of the three dates the child was there in late August and early September, city authorities who reviewed inspection logs at the Don Misenhimer splash pad said.
The CDC says Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, with only 34 cases documented in the United States from 2010 to 2019. People become infected when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose, which happens most often when people swim or dive in lakes and rivers.
The CDC declare the city’s water supply safe because backflow preventers isolated the splash pad’s water from the city’s water supply.