A brain-eating amoeba has been found in the water at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC, according to Mecklenburg County Commissioners.
County commissioner Bill James tweeted, “Naegleria fowleri amoeba found at #USNWC- water facilities to be closed by county health. Details forthcoming…”
Mecklenburg County health officials are closing parts of the U.S. National Whitewater Center, according to James.
The USNWC released the following statement:
"The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC), after discussion with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local health officials, has decided to temporarily suspend all whitewater activities effective immediately. This decision was made by the Whitewater Center after initial test results foundNaegleria Fowleri DNA was present in the whitewater system. The USNWC is working with the CDC and local health officials to develop next steps. Only whitewater activities are suspended. The USNWC remains open for all other operations and activities."
At a press conference Friday night, health officials said they "knew it was likely the organism was there in the first place." They went on to say that run-off from ground water may have contributed to the amoeba's presence.
The news comes days after the announcement that Lauren Seitz, 18, of Westerville, Ohio died from Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, an infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, after visiting the center. The North Carolina Division of Human Health and Safety said the only known underwater exposure was believed to be when Seitz, who was riding in a raft with several others from her church group that overturned at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Seitz was drum major of the marching band at Westerville South High School.
The amoeba is naturally present in warm lakes during the summer and does not cause illness if swallowed, but can be fatal if forced up the nose, according to the CDC.
Symptoms of Naeglaeria fowleri include:
- Stiff Neck
- Lack of Attention to People and Surroundings
- Loss of Balance
Fewer than 10 cases have been reported annually in the United States during the last 53 years.
Only three people have been known to survive after contracting the amoeba. Two of the three known survivors were treated with the experimental drug called Miltefosine. If symptoms were caught early sometimes it prevented major brain damage from occurring.
FOX46Charlotte is working to gather more details. Keep refreshing this story as more information becomes available.