Eye-Eating Parasite from Water Park Leaves Man Impaired, Lawsuit Says

A Pennsylvania man is suing after he claims he got an eye-eating parasite from a water park that has left him suffering from long-term eye damage, according to court documents, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In the lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, Nov. 28, Robert Trostle and his wife Krystsina allege negligence on the part of Kennywood Entertainment, the company that runs Raging Rapids, a water park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Trostle alleges in the complaint that he was splashed in his left eye while on one of the amusement park’s water rides on July 2, according to the Post-Gazette. Also, while standing in line for the ride, the couple claim that the water in the ride was “dirty, stagnant and sludge-like,” and that parts of the amusement park were in a state of disrepair.

The suit goes on to say that when Trostle was splashed, a parasite called microsporidia got into his eye. The complaint describes microsporidia is a “harmful parasite that eats away at the cornea of the eye,” and alleges it was there due to unsanitary conditions.

The macrosporidia parasite. (National Institute of Health)

Sometime later, Trostle’s eye became inflamed, photosensitive, red, itchy, and painful, reports the Post-Gazette. He sought medical attention and was diagnosed with acute conjunctivitis. Despite treatment with antibiotics, Trostle’s symptoms allegedly worsened. On July 14, he was diagnosed with microsporidia keratitis, or inflammation of the cornea by the parasite, microsporidia, reports the Post-Gazette.

Trostle allegedly had to undergo painful surgery and claims that parasite penetrated so deeply into his eye that surgeons were unable to remove it completely. In the complaint, Trostle says he still suffers from blurry vision, redness, itchiness, pain, and inflammation.

A close-up of a bloodshot human eye. (Luca Biada, CC BY 2.0)

The lawsuit accuses Kennywood Entertainment of improper maintenance of its facilities, leading to conditions that allowed the eye-eating parasite to thrive and afflict Trostle.

The Trostles are seeking $35,000 in damages, Pittsburgh’s Action News reports.

Kennywood would not comment on the specifics of the matter due to the ongoing legal process, but spokesperson Nick Paradise said the company takes matters of safety very seriously.

“Safety is the top priority of everything we do, and that certainly extends to maintenance of the rides and water in the rides,” Paradise told the Post-Gazette.

Some domestic and wild animals may be naturally infected with certain species of the microsporidian parasite, as well as certain insects, surface water, and ditch water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Birds, especially parrots (parakeets, love birds, budgies) are naturally infected with E. hellem [one of the types of microsporidia, ed.]. E. bieneusi and V. cornea [other types of microsporidia, ed.] have been identified in surface waters, and spores of Nosema sp. (likely A. algerae) have been identified in ditch water. Tubulinosema acridophagus, an insect parasite, has recently (2012) been implicated in two cases of disseminated microsporidiosis,” states the CDC website.

Scientific studies say microsporidia infections are very rare in humans with normally functioning immune systems and individuals with immune deficiency disorders are at greater risk of infection.

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