WACO, Texas (AP) — A New Jersey man who died from a rare “brain-eating amoeba ” was likely exposed to it during his visit to a Texas water resort last month, health officials said Friday. The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District said testing done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence of Naegleria fowleri — a rare but deadly amoeba that can cause a brain infection — at one of the four attractions at the BSR Cable Park and Surf Resort in Waco, and conditions favorable for its growth at the other three.
Health officials said the amoeba was found at the attraction that’s a natural body of water, but it’ll remain open because risk of exposure is considered the same as at any natural body of water. But officials added that the other three attractions won’t reopen until “all health and safety issues” are addressed. Fabrizio Stabile , 29, died Sept. 21 after contracting the deadly amoeba.
People are usually infected when contaminated water enters the body through the nose, according to the CDC. The CDC reports the amoeba is usually found in warm freshwater, such as lakes, rivers or hot springs. The New Jersey Department of Health said the man had visited the park on Sept. 8.
Symptoms generally start about five days after infection, with death occurring about five days later, according to the CDC. The infection can start out with a headache, fever and nausea, and worsen into a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and seizures. The CDC said only four of the 143 people known to have been infected in the U.S. between 1962 and 2017 have survived.
The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District said that even though the amoeba wasn’t detected at the establishment’s Surf Resort, Lazy River or Royal Flush, the water at those attractions was very cloudy, had organisms that indicated the presence of feces, had low chlorine levels and conditions favorable to Naegleria fowleri growth. BSR Cable Park and Surf Resort owner Stuart Parsons said in a statement that they will be installing a “state-of-the-art filtration system” to make sure water at the Surf Resort, Lazy River and Royal Flush are “as clear and clean as humanly possible.”