FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas girl has has died after family members said she contracted a brain-eating amoeba from a river near her Whitney home earlier this month.
According to WFAA-TV, Lily Mae Avant, 10, died early Monday in Fort Worth, her family said.
"Our beautiful girl is completely healed and in the arms of Jesus," her cousin, Wendy Scott, wrote in a Facebook post. "Lily changed lives. Lily saved lives (in the physical and spiritual sense). She brought unity to a divided nation. Which, is just like her! She loved everyone she came in contact with, and we see you all felt that, via news reports or social media. She taught us so much more in her ten years than we ever taught her."
Scott said Lily fell ill after she went swimming with family members in the Brazos River on Labor Day weekend.
"The water is in Lily's backyard," Scott told WFAA last week. "She has swum in there day in, day out."
Days later, Lily's head began to ache and she developed a fever, her family said. She was taken to a Fort Worth children's hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with an infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, often referred to as a "brain-eating amoeba," WFAA reported.
The rare infections, which are deadly 97 percent of the time, occur "when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose," usually while "swimming or diving in warm freshwater places," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website.
From 1962 to 2018, 145 people contracted Naegleria fowleri infections in the United States, according to the CDC. Only four of them survived.
In her Facebook post, Scott urged followers to be cautious while swimming in freshwater.
"We started this platform because we wanted to bring awareness to Amoeba in an effort to prevent any other family from having to go through this," she wrote. "Please wear nose plugs, if you insist on swimming in warm freshwater. If your child starts showing symptoms and has recently been swimming in freshwater, tell your doctor! The quicker they get treatment, the better."
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