Sunday, 25 August 2013

Florida boy dies from brain-eating amoeba which entered his body as he played in water with friends.

A 12-year-old Florida boy has succumbed to a rare and deadly brain-eating amoeba, the child's family announced Saturday. 
Zachary Reyna had been trying to fight the infection caused by the amoeba with antibiotics, but was unable to beat it, passing away at 1:54pm Saturday, according to an announcement on the Facebook page set up by his family. 
Reyna's family had held out hope he would survive after recently announcing the amoeba was gone, but doctors feared he may have suffered severe brain damage had he survived.
Hope: Zachary, pictured with his sister, has managed to fight off the infection
Hope: Zachary, pictured with his sister, has managed to fight off the infection
'Wake up child it's YOUR TIME TO SHINE! Continued prayers please #pray4number4 #wakeupzac #prayer #powerofprayer,' Zachary's sister Amanda tweeted Saturday morning.
It was not long after that her brother passed away.
'At 1:54 today there was a crack of a bat heard. Zac took it deep. My boy hit his homerun. One that I'll never forget,' the boy's devastated father wrote. 'I'm so proud of him. He left it all on the field and I can't ask for more. He did so well that he'll be the starting 2nd baseman for The Lords team.'
    Zachary Reyna''s plight has caught the attention of Florida and the rest of the U.S. The Facebook page set up looking for donations to help pay for the suffering young boy has more than 10,000 likes, with baseball players and celebrities including Taylor Swift sending presents and messages of support.
    Improvement in Zachary's condition was highlighted by his father on the page, and based on the hope that he will be the fourth person to survive the amoeba. 
    'We were told this morning that the antibiotics have defeated the infection. Tests showed negative activity from the amoeba,' Jesse Reyna wrote Thursday.
    Sadly, that hope was short-lived.
    Zachary fell critically ill after playing on a knee board with friends in a ditch near his LaBelle, Florida home on August 3.

    Risks: Zachary is being treated in hospital, above, for an infection only three people are known to have survived
    Risks: Zachary is being treated in hospital, above, for an infection only three people are known to have survived

    If he recovers from the infection caused by the brain-eating amoeba he will be only the four person to have survived.
    The single cell Naegleria Fowleri or brain-eating amoeba, lives in warm fresh water and attacks the brain after entering the body through the nose, according to Naples News.
    On Wednesday last week, five pastors and hundreds of residents met at LaBelle Veteran's Memorial Park for the vigil.
    Donations were taken by organizer Susan Whidden, who lives in the area and works at Seacoast National Bank, on behalf of the family, The Miami Herald reported.
    A LaBell resident, Mr Bares, told the Herald: 'When something happens close to home we really come together. That's why I love living in a small town.'
    Doctors don't know why some people who swim in amoeba-containing water become infected in their nervous system, while others don't.
    In the past 50 years only 31 have contracted the rare primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (Pam) infection, and only three have survived so far. 


    Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis is as rare as it is horrific.
    It is caused by an amoeba that implants itself in its victim's brains - usually when infected water shoots up their nose.
    The amoeba grows in the sediment at the bottom of pools of warm, stagnant water and is most active at about 85F.
    The water must reach a relatively high temperature for the parasites to reach numbers that threaten humans.
    Health officials have recorded only 125 instances of the disease in the United States in the past 50 years.
    Only two people have survived in the U.S. One other survivor was found in Mexico
    Swimmers can reduce their risk by:
    • Keeping their heads above water
    • Using nose clips or holding the nose shut when the head is submerged
    • Avoid stirring up sediment in the shallows.
    'He can be number four. That's what we're hoping for, for him to be number four,' Zachary's brother, Brandon Villarreal, said.
    The family first noticed there was something seriously wrong with Zachary after he slept for a whole day after playing with friends on August 3. 
    At first they thought he had a 24 hour virus, but soon realized there was something seriously wrong with the usually active, baseball loving child.
    The family kept a vigil by his bedside at Miami Children's Hospital, where Zachary had been sedated. 
    '[It] will actually eat away at the tissue; it literally eats the tissues,' Dr Mark Heulitt told KATV. 'It is a severe form of meningitis where your brain will be eaten by the amoeba.'
    Swimmers have been warned to be careful in still water around Florida, as health officials try to prevent further infections. 
    The amoeba is common in warm, stagnant water in central Florida, especially in the summer. 
    Health officials have advised swimmers and water skiers to wear nose clips as a safety precaution because it cuts off the only way the amoeba can enter the body and do damage.
    A Department of Health spokesman told MailOnline the water must to be forcefully, almost violently, pushed up the nose - as it can be after diving into the water, being dunked or using a water slide. 
    Three boys, aged between 10 and 14, developed the infection last year after wakeboarding or swimming. 
    Mark Zeitler, whose nephew of Will Sellers, who died from the infection last year, has warned people to stay away from water in the summer. 
    'We're not trying to be alarmists, but as that water heats up, find other places to recreate,' Mr Zeitler told the Orlando Sentinel.
    Warning signs: Zachary's family realized he was sick when the usually active child could not stop sleeping
    Warning signs: Zachary's family realized he was sick when the usually active child could not stop sleeping
    It can take up to a week for the infection to show symptoms, which include headaches, fever, vomiting and seizures. 
    A 12-year-old girl who developed the condition in July is still recovering after managing to fight off the infection. Kali Hardig came in contact with the amoeba as she swam in a sandy bottom lake at Willow Springs Water Park near Little Rock, Arkansas.
    All Zachary Reyna's parents can do now is fondly remember their budding all-star.
    'I sit back and ask myself, what would make me prouder; my son playing pro ball, being a successful business man or being known for changing and saving thousands of lives,' Reyna's mourning father wrote on the Facebook page, continuing 'I hope that Zac continues to touch people and his time here is remembered forever. We thank everyone for being so caring... the battle is over for Zac but he won the war.'
    Reyna's parents also announced Saturday that they plan to donate his organs saying 'even though Zac has passed, he will still be saving many lives.'

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