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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
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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.

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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