10 year old Lily Mae Avant went for a swim on Labor Day weekend, where she was unfortunately infected with an amoeba that only has a three percent survival rate.
Avant took a dip in Brazos River and Lake Whitney in Bosque County, Texas. About a week later, she developed a headache which was followed shortly by a fever. The girl’s family initially thought she might have had a viral infection, although after not sleeping well and several trips to the doctor, it became obvious it was something more.
“She was incoherent, unresponsive, and was quickly swept up and taken to the ER,” the family explained on the Facebook page they made to support Lily.
Lily was taken to Cook Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth where a spinal tap revealed that she had contracted Naegleria fowleri.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Crystal Warren, Lily Mae’s aunt. “For this to happen to her when there were so many other people in the same waters on the same days; we just don’t understand why it was her.”
The principal at Valley Mills Elementary School, Chris Dowdy, said that the student was “putting up a fierce battle for her life, caused by this awful amoeba.”
“She is an outstanding student, but more importantly, she is just a tremendous person,” said Dowdy. “Everyone in our community, state, and even the entire country is praying for this sweet child.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amoeba is a single-cell organism that is usually located in freshwater lakes and rivers that have warm temperatures. It typically gets into the body via the nose where it then moves into the brain to destroy tissue. In the United States, there have only been 34 recorded cases of Naegleria fowleri in the last decade. From the early 1960s until now, just 4 people have survived out of the 145 documented cases. Everyone is hoping that Lily Mae will be number 5.