A water park in North Carolina, where a deadly amoeba was found in the water after the death of an Ohio woman, will not be fully reopening for several weeks, Mecklenburg County Health Director Dr. Marcus Plescia said Monday. “It will take at least several weeks to implement the steps that are agreed upon,” he said.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte was mostly closed Friday after water samples tested positive for Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that can cause a rare and deadly brain infection.
The park shutdown came five days after 18-year-old Lauren Seitz of Westerville, Ohio, died from the infection. Health officials said samples of her cerebral spinal fluid tested positive for the amoeba, confirming the cause of death.
The high school senior had visited the water park on a church trip. At one point, she was riding on a raft that overturned, health officials said last week.
Friends and family gathered to say goodbye to Seitz at a funeral on Saturday, according to CNN affiliate WCMH.
Because the park is considered an open body of water, it is not required to undergo the same inspection process as swimming pools. This has been the case for the nearly 10 years it has been in business but may need to change.
“Part of the plan may include consulting with experts who build and maintain other manmade water attractions to get ideas on how to keep the facility safe moving forward,” Plescia said Monday.
Other areas of the park that do not involve whitewater remain open.
According to the CDC, there were 37 occurrences of Naegleria fowleri infection from 2006 to 2015. But survival is unlikely. “Only 3 out of the 138 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2015 have survived,” according to the CDC.
Individuals become infected from swimming in warm fresh water, such as a lake or river. The amoeba enters the nose and then goes to the brain, where it causes swelling and death. Symptoms include headache, fever, vomiting, seizures and hallucinations.
Health officials advise that people should be aware of the risks of swimming in lakes and rivers and try to limit how much water goes into their noses by holding it while jumping in or using a nose plug.