11-year-old S.C. girl dies after contracting 'brain-eating' amoeba

Published: Aug. 6, 2016 at 10:18 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2016 at 3:25 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - An 11-year-old girl has died after becoming infected with the so-called "brain-eating" amoeba.

Hannah Katherine Collins, who was believed to have contracted the amoeba Naegleria fowleri while swimming near Martin's Landing on the Edisto River on July 24, died Friday night, according to sources.

The Anderson Funeral Home has confirmed Collins is in their care but funeral arrangements have not been completed as of Saturday evening.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed there was a South Carolina patient with Naegleria fowleri. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control also confirmed on Tuesday that a patient was being treated for the infection.

But federal privacy laws prevented the hospital and state and federal health authorities from confirming any information about the patient.

"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. In fact, there have been fewer than 40 cases reported nationwide in the past ten years," said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist.

Only rarely is the infection associated with swimming pools with inadequate levels of chlorine, as well as flushing sinuses with contaminated water, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Bell said that infection from Naegleria fowleri is extremely difficult to contract, requiring very specific circumstances.

Miltefosine, a drug used to treat patients fighting the amoeba, was driven to Charleston via courier overnight Monday after the CEO of the drug company that manufacturers the medicine received a call.

Todd Maclaughlan with Orlando-based Profounda said the call came into his office at 10:30 p.m. Monday and he went in to make sure the patient had the medicine.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved.