A 13-year-old boy from Florida has passed away from brain-eating amoeba he contracted during a family vacation at a campground with a lake and a water park.
Tanner Lake Wall’s grieving family said the young boy fell ill and died on August 2 after spending summer at the campground in North Florida.
In an interview with News4Jax, Travis Walls said: “He was just somebody you always wanted to be around.”
The boy’s mother, Alicia Whitehill, added: “He was very active. He loved the outdoors. He loves hunting, fishing.”
The devastated family said Tanner started experiencing symptoms only two days after swimming with friends and family.
“Nausea, vomiting, pretty bad aches,” Travis shared, adding that his son also experienced a stiff neck.
The couple took their son to Putnam Community Medical Center where he was diagnosed with strep throat, but Alicia and Travis knew that something was very wrong.
“Finally, I got pretty irate. She was irate at this point,” Travis told News4Jax.
“I said, ‘You know what? Unhook him. Do whatever you need to do. We will transport him ourselves. I’m standing at the front door. Come outside. We will take him where we have to go.’”
The family drove to UF Health where doctors discovered what was wrong.
“They said, ‘We’re sorry to tell you this, but your son does not have bacterial meningitis. He has a parasitic amoeba, and there is no cure,’” Travis said.
The brain-eating amoeba or Naegleria fowleri can be found in warm freshwater or poorly chlorinated swimming pools and contaminated tap water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose.
“This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. The Naegleria fowleri ameba then travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue.”
Tanner’s parents were forced to make a heartbreaking decision to remove their son from life support when he had no more brain activity.
“People need to be aware from July to the latter part of September, with the hot waters, that this amoeba, it can come up your nose. It can be diving. It can be swimming, water sports, skiing, things like that,” Travis expressed.
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