After Lauren Seitz, 18, died last year of a brain-eating amoeba, her parents sued the water park where she contracted it—the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Seitz visited the water park on June 8, 2016, as part of a Christian music tour with her church. She tried the whitewater rafting through an artificial rapids course and fell out of the raft.
Six days later, she began to complain about sinus congestion, after which her state rapidly deteriorated and she was taken to a hospital.
On June 18, she was diagnosed with an infection from Naegleria fowleri—a brain-eating parasitic amoeba—and by June 19 she had died of the infection.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention tested water samples from the park and detected Naegleria fowleri infestation “at levels we haven’t previously seen in environmental samples,” said CDC’s Dr. Jennifer Cope, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The parasite can be killed by chlorination or UV water treatment. The park used those systems, but they were inadequate, Cope stated.
The state has since passed a bill requiring water testing at the park.
Seitz’s parents filled a lawsuit against the U.S. National Whitewater Center on June 19 accusing it of “gross negligence, recklessness, willful and wanton misconduct, and/or a conscious disregard for the safety of visitors.”
They demand over $1 million in damages.
Naegleria fowleri grows in warm freshwater bodies and enters a person through the nose. It then makes its way to the brain and consumes the blood cells and brain tissue, causing the brain to swell. It is able to kill a person within a week. Of the 143 recorded cases since 1962, only four have survived.
The infection is rare. Between 2007 and 2016, there were 40 cases in the U.S. and the majority of states haven’t had a single case since at least 1962.