The worst injury you’d probably expect your teenager to get at a water park might be a bad sunburn. You might even expect a few bruises if there’s something like whitewater rafting involved, but overall you’d expect the park to be reasonably safe for its guests.
You wouldn’t expect the park to be putting guests in water that’s filthy and not properly maintained. You certainly wouldn’t expect your child to pick up an amoeba from the dirty water and die, just after the trip.
That’s the tragic reality, however, for an Ohio family whose 18-year-old daughter died only 11 days after a vacation at a North Carolina water park. During a whitewater rafting ride, the young woman’s raft tipped over and her nose and mouth got into the water. That’s when it is believed she came into contact with the Naegleria fowleri amoeba.
That particular amoeba causes a disease in humans known as meningoencephalitis, a type of swelling in the brain, the symptoms of which include headaches, vomiting, fevers, convulsions, altered mental states and death.
What was particularly significant in this case is that the amoeba was found in the young woman’s system and her only known possible contact with it was at the water park. When the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tested the water park for the amoeba, they found it in quantities far greater than they’ve found in the wilds — meaning that the park had somehow become a breeding ground for the amoeba. The young woman would have been less likely to contract the deadly amoeba had she stuck to wild waters, like the nearby river, rather than enjoying her time in a supposedly sanitized park.
Officials believe that a combination of things made the park such a hospitable place for the amoeba:
— the heat of the weather in the area, which helps the amoeba thrive
— the fact that the water park was under-chlorinating its water
— there was an unusually high concentration of filth in the water, making it hard for any chlorine to work anyhow
The young woman’s family has filed a wrongful death claim alleging that the facility was negligent for failing to warn guests of potential dangers and not properly cleaning and chlorinating its water system.
If a loved one has died due to someone else’s negligence, seek legal assistance right away.
Source: Fox 8 Cleveland, “Family of Ohio teen who died from brain-eating amoeba sues water park,” June 20, 2017