Father of girl killed by amoeba hopes for different outcome for current patient

Father of girl killed by amoeba hopes for different outcome for current patient

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC - The Centers For Disease Control has confirmed there is a South Carolina patient with Naegleria fowleri, an extremely rare infection of the brain.

Officials believe the exposure happened on July 24 when the person was swimming near Martin's Landing on the Edisto River.

This new case of a so-called brain-eating amoeba, sends shock waves through the Mount Pleasant father.

"She was just was swimming around with all of her little buddies and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and a little drop of water that had this amoeba in it, one in a bazillion chance or whatever, went in her nose," Dunn Hollingsworth, said.

That's how Hollingsworth describes the beginning of the downward spiral for his then 10-year-old daughter Liza.

The amoeba caused primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Nearly a week-and-a-half after Liza contracted a so-called brain-eating amoeba, Liza passed away.

She was 10 years old when she died on July 6, 2010.

According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, "there have been fewer than 40 cases reported nationwide in the past 10 years."

Most of the cases, Hollingsworth could tell you all about.

"There's a little boy who died about a month after Liza died, a little boy in Texas," Hollingsworth said. "There are two cases of survivors of PAM since Liza died."

When he heard about the news of another case Tuesday evening, he immediately felt empathy.

"Mostly I just feel awful for the parents," Hollingsworth said. "I'd probably just hug them, wish them the best and hope they manage to get the medicine."

As many hope for the best Dunn says be aware but don't be scared, and understand that amoeba live in soil.

"I mean it's everywhere," Hollingsworth said. "You just have to have the combination of heat, tends to be shallow so the dirt is being stirred up and you just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

According to the centers for disease and control, salt water does not contain amoeba.

"This organism occurs naturally and is all around us and is present in many warm-water lakes, rivers and streams, but infection in humans is very rare," said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist.

Hollingsworth now warns others of the dangers, hoping his experience with Liza will not happen to another family.

"I still miss her every day," he said.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved.