A 14-year-old Houston boy who contracted a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a Texas state park with his cross-country running teammates died over the weekend, reports the Houston Chronicle. Michael John Riley Jr. died 17 days after he contracted primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) while swimming in a freshwater lake at Huntsville State Park. Michael's family wrote on Facebook that the three-time junior Olympian "fought a courageous fight over the past week, allowing him to move on to be with the Lord for future heavenly tasks, a beautiful set of wings, and a pair of gold running shoes."
PAM is caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba. "They get water up their nose with those organisms in there," an epidemiologist told the Chronicle. "They start invading the nasal tissues. They basically go all the way to the brain and you get a brain infection." Experts advise against allowing warm, still water—found in lakes, ponds, and pools—to go up one's nose to decrease the chance of infection. Symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, stiff neck, and seizures, according to the CDC. Only two Americans have survived PAM, including 13-year-old Kali Hardig of Arkansas, who pulled off a miracle recovery last September, Inside Edition notes.