River Swim Leaves Girl, 10, With Brain-Eating Amoeba

'She's always been a fighter,' family says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2019 9:56 AM CDT
Doctors Put 10-Year-Old With Brain-Eating Amoeba in Coma
Lily Mae Avant swam in the Brazos River over the Labor Day weekend.   (Getty/Hundley_Photography)

(Newser) – After a swim over the holiday weekend in the Brazos River in Texas, Lily Mae Avant developed a headache and fever. Her family took her to a doctor, but she only got worse, CNN reports. "She was incoherent, unresponsive," her family said, so she was taken to an emergency room, then flown to a Fort Worth children's hospital. A spinal tap there showed that the 10-year-old had Naegleria fowleri; the freshwater amoeba enters the nose of swimmers and destroys brain tissue, per the CDC. Few people who contract it survive. Lily has been placed in a medically induced coma, per WFAA. "The doctors told us there is nothing more that they can do for her," her aunt said.

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Since 1962, 145 people have had the infection. Four lived through it. The family is focused on that number, praying for five minutes outside her room Friday night. Well-wishers are posting photos of them displaying a 5 or holding up five fingers. High school football teams honored her Friday night before their games, per the family's Facebook page. "We have high hopes," her aunt said. "She is a fighter, and she's always been a fighter." (Read more brain eating amoeba stories.)

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