A young child recently passed away at Cook Children's Medical Center from a rare brain-eating infection after contracting an amoeba at the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad in Arlington earlier this month.
The City was notified of the child’s hospitalization on Sept. 5. The child, whose identity shall remain anonymous, passed at the Medical Center several days later on Sept. 11.
The infection, known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis, is a rare infection caused by the Naegleria fowleri ameba. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the infection can infect people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose.
A thorough investigation by the Tarrant County Public Health, in collaboration with the CDC, confirmed the presence of active N. fowleri ameba at the splash pad in water samples and determined it was the probable source of the child’s exposure.
According to the City of Arlington, all city splash pads passed their annual inspection prior to the start of the summer season. However, city officials stated there were instances of employees not consistently recording or conducting water testing before the Don Misenhimer Park and The Beacon Recreation Center opened each day.
A review of inspection logs found that water chlorination readings were not documented at Don Misenhimer splash pad on two of the three dates that the child visited the location in late August and early September.
The City says it is currently conducting a thorough investigation, reviewing all splash pad equipment and supplies, maintenance, and water quality inspection policies, procedures and training. City officials confirmed that the drinking water has not been affected.
As of September 5, The City of Arlington closed down the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad, as well as all other splash pads for the remainder of the year. There have been no other reports of illnesses, city officials say.
The City of Arlington: https://arlingtontx.gov/news/my_arlington_t_x/news_stories/naegleria_fowleri_report
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/index.html