Arlington boy is victim of rare disease after river swim

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WFAA

Posted on August 31, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 1 at 12:36 PM

Paluxy River

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State health officials are warning Texans to take precautions when swimming this holiday weekend following the death of a seven-year-old Arlington boy.

Doctors said Kyle Lewis was the victim of a rare infection of the brain.

Kyle, his big sister, cousins and family members had been swimming in the Paluxy River in Glen Rose -- part of a weeklong camping trip before the start of school.

Three days later, Kyle died from an infection caused by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri.

Naegleria breeds in warm, stagnant water. It enters through the nose and makes its way to the spinal cord.

Initial symptoms include severe headaches, vomiting and high fever, followed by confusion, lack of balance and seizures.

Infections are almost always fatal.

Kyle's father, Jeremy Lewis, said he had been unaware of the risk.

"My son was heaven on earth; my son meant everything to my family and I, to my parents, his parents," Lewis said.  "He was an angel before he was an angel. He was perfect."

Kyle's funeral is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at Rush Creek Baptist Church in Arlington.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says you can take these precautions to reduce the already low risk of infection:

  • Never swim or ski in stagnant water
  • Hold your nose or use nose clips when skiing, jet skiing, or jumping into any fresh water

DSHS says the amoeba thrives in warm, stagnant water, but that it can be present in any body of fresh water.

The amoeba is not found in salt water, nor is it present in swimming pools that are properly cleaned, maintained and treated with chlorine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cases of the disease are rare; only 33 have been reported in the U.S. between 1998 and 2007.

Texas officials say there have been ten cases reported in Texas since 2000, including the death of Kyle Lewis.

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