13-year-old Florida boy dies of brain-eating amoeba after vacation


A young Florida boy died after suffering a health condition when he became ill with a rare brain-eating amoeba, which he encountered during a summer vacation at a campground.

The family of 13-year-old Tenor Lake Wall said he died on August 2 after a family vacation at a North Florida campground equipped with a water park and lake.

Travis Walls of Palatka told News4Jax about his son, “He was someone you’ve always wanted.

‘He was very active. He loved the outdoors. He likes hunting, fishing, ‘said his mother, Alicia Whitehill.

He said Tanner began experiencing symptoms two days after swimming with family and friends.

Tener Lake Wall (pictured) died in Florida at the age of 13 this summer after being infected with a rare brain-eating amoeba

“Nausea, vomiting, a very bad headache,” Travis said, Tanner’s neck was also stiff.

The pair took their son to the Putnam Community Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed Tanner with Stunner’s throat.

But Travis and Alicia felt that their son’s illness was more than that.

‘Eventually, I got very angry. She was embarrassed at this point, ‘Travis told the publication.

‘I said, “You know what that is? Look at that. Do what you have to do. We’ll transport it to myself. I’m standing at the front door. Come out. We’ll take her where we need to go.”

The family said Tanner (pictured) started feeling sick from vomiting and headaches after swimming with others at the North Florida campground

The family said Tanner (pictured) started feeling sick from vomiting and headaches after swimming with others at the North Florida campground

The family said that Tenor (pictured) was initially diagnosed with strep throat, but a visit to UF Health in Gainesville, Florida, revealed that he was infected with Negeleria fowlerlee

The family said that Tenor (pictured) was initially diagnosed with strep throat, but a trip to UF Health in Gainesville, Florida, revealed that he was infected with Negeleria fowlerlee

He drove an hour to UF Health in Gainesville, where Tanner was put on a ventilator and doctors made a tragic discovery.

“He said,” We’re sorry to tell you this, but your son does not have bacterial meningitis. He has a parasitic amoeba, and has no cure, “Travis said.

The parasitic amoeba was Naegleria fowleri, or ‘brain-eating amoeba’ commonly found in warm fresh water that can cause brain infections known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis.

They can also be found in contaminated tap water and poorly chlorinated swimming pools.

Alicia Whitehill (left) and Travis Wall (right) hope the tragedy can bring awareness to other parents about the dangers of hot freshwater and Negaleria fowlerlee.

Alicia Whitehill (left) and Travis Wall (right) hope the tragedy can bring awareness to other parents about the dangers of hot freshwater and Negaleria fowlerlee.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘Negaleria fowleri affects people when amoebic water enters the body through the nose.’

‘This usually happens when people go swimming or diving in hot freshwater places, such as lakes and rivers. Negaleria fowleri amoeba then travels from the nose to the brain where it destroys brain tissue. ‘

What is AMOEBA eating a meal?

Naegleria fowleri is commonly referred to as ‘brain-eating amoeba’ as it can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

But infection is very rare, and according to the CDC, there have been about 35 cases in the US over the past decade.

Single-celled organisms are typically found in warm fresh water, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, as well as in soil.

It usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it reaches the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal.

Infection usually occurs when people swim or dive in warm freshwater locations, such as lakes and rivers.

In very rare instances, Naegleria infection can also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as insufficiently chlorinated swimming pool water or hot and contaminated tap water) enters the nose.

You cannot get infected by swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria.

The symptoms that Tanner experienced were common with nagleria fowlerlee, including headache, vomiting, fever, and nausea.

The CDC wrote, “Later symptoms may include stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, lack of balance, seizures, and hallucinations.”

‘After the onset of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death in about 5 days (1 to 12 days).

As of 2 August, Tanner had no brain activity and her parents decided to remove her from life support.

‘People need to be aware with hot water from July to late September, that this amoeba, it can come up to your nose. It can be diving. It could be things like swimming, water sports, skiing, ‘Travis said.

Travis and Alicia hope the gut-wrenching tragedy will help bring awareness to other parents and prevent other similar incidents.

‘Therefore parents are aware. Maybe they weren’t thinking about it because I’m sure we couldn’t tell you, ‘Travis told News4Jax. ‘We grew up swimming in ponds and creeks and things like that.’

They also want to warn signs advising potential hazards, especially near hot water locations in summer.

Tanner’s family said they could hire a lawyer to investigate his son’s death.

Putnam Community Medical Center said in a statement to the family that they send their condolences and were unable to give a final diagnosis.

The spokesperson wrote, “The passing of a loved one is sad and our condolences to the family.”

‘Our attending physician advised the family that further assessments were needed; However, the recommendations were rejected and the family left the facility before diagnosis was possible. Due to confidentiality laws, we are unable to discuss further details of the case. ‘

Travis: 'People need to be aware with hot water from July to the latter part of September, that this amoeba, it can get in your nose.  It can be diving.  It can be things like swimming, water sports, skiing, '

Travis: ‘People need to be aware with hot water from July to the latter part of September, that this amoeba, it can get in your nose. It can be diving. It can be things like swimming, water sports, skiing, ‘

Tanner (pictured) is believed to be the second person to be infected with Negeleria fowlerly in Florida this summer

Tanner (pictured) is believed to be the second person to be infected with Negeleria fowlerly in Florida this summer

Tanner is believed to be the second person to be infected with Negeleria fowlerlee in Florida this summer.

In July, the Florida Department of Health announced that a case had surfaced in Hillsborough County.

From 2009 to 2018, the CDC recorded 34 infections nationwide. Of those cases, 30 were infected through recreational water, three after having nasal irrigation with infected tap water and through contaminated tap water used on a backyard slip-n-slide.

Negaleria fowlerlee has a mortality rate of 97 percent and from 1962 to 2018 only four of the 145 known infections survived.

The Department of Health announced 16 cases and two deaths in Florida this year. In 2019, there were 27 cases and two deaths.

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