A TODDLER with a “bright smile” died after playing in a children’s paddling park.
Michael Alexander Pollock III likely became infected with Naegleria fowleri – a rare brain-eating amoeba – while swimming with friends.
The 16-month-old boy from Little Rock, Arkansas, is at least the fifth person to die from the disease in the U.S. so far this year.
It’s feared the parasite swam up his nose while he was paddling in the water at the Country Club of Little Rock.
Health officials said the infection, which was confirmed through laboratory testing, was likely caused by “contact” with the venue’s splash pad.
Michael died on September 4th at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
According to his obituary, he was “the pride and joy of his parents,” Michael and Julia.
It added: “Although Michael’s time on earth was short, he touched the hearts of his family, his friends and even the strangers he met with his bright smile and playfulness.”
The country club’s swimming pools were closed after the teen’s death.
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) insisted there was “no ongoing risk to the public.”
Naegleria fowleri lives in soil and warm freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds and hot springs, but can also be found in pools and wading pools that are not properly maintained, according to the ADH.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it infects people when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose.
It then feeds on brain tissue, causing severe neurological damage.
Symptoms typically begin about five days later with severe headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting.
The disease then usually progresses and leads to stiff neck, seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations and sometimes coma.
This could then lead to death, the ADH added.
Infections are rare, with only 157 reported between 1962 and 2022.
But in almost all cases the disease is fatal; the survival rate is only three percent.
To prevent illness, health authorities recommend:
- Hold your nose or use nose clips
- Keep your head above water when participating in water-related activities in warm freshwater waters
- Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature
- Avoid burrowing or stirring up sediment while participating in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas
Michael’s death follows the death of two-year-old Woodrow Bundy, who was infected with the amoeba while swimming in Ash Springs, Nevada, in July.
Additional deaths were reported in Georgia, Texas and Florida.