10-year-old girl battles rare brain-eating amoeba


BOSQUE COUNTY, TX (CNN) – A Texas girl is hospitalized and in the fight of her life.

She contracted a deadly, brain-eating amoeba that usually kills people within three to five days.

“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” Crystal Warren, Lily Mae Avant’s Aunt, said.

As 10-year-old Lily lays unresponsive in a hospital bed in the neurointensive care unit of Cooks Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.

Her family, friends and school are rallying behind her.

“She is just an outstanding young girl and we are all devastated but we’re also we’re also very hopeful,” Chris Dowdy, Valley Mills Elementary Principal, said.

“We just need everybody to pray and continuously think good positive thoughts she will be number five to survive,” Warren said.

In Valley Mills, last night more prayers from classmates and their families, and prayers are what’s needed says her Aunt Crystal and for Lily’s body to keep fighting.

“The doctors told us there is nothing more that they can do for her and they have exhausted all resources due to the fact that this is such a fatal disease and it claims it’s victims so quickly. They haven’t had time to really study and learn from it,” Warren said.

The show of support for Lily is online, in Whitney and in Valley Mills as well.

Her elementary school principal Chris Dowdy says many people are thinking about her.

“Well you have a huge support system from this campus from this city in this community all over the state,” Dowdy said.

“She cares about everybody and she loves babies. Those are her favorite things and all of her babies are just praying for her to come back to them,” Warren said.

Doctors and members of the Center for Disease Control say they haven’t figured out where she contracted the amoeba, whether it was when she swam in the Brazos River near her house in Laguna Park, or at Lake Whitney on Labor Day.

“For this to happen to her when there were so many other people in the same waters on the same days we just don’t understand why it was her,” Warren said. 

Many people who get this dangerous parasite die within three-to-five days after starting to feel the effects.

Lily is about to finish her sixth day and that could be good news.

“We have high hopes. She is a fighter and she’s always been a fighter,” Warren said.

“We’re behind you. We’re here for you and we can’t wait to get Lily back on this campus,” Dowdy said.

The scientific name of the amoeba is Naegleria Fowleri.

It is typically found in bodies of fresh water, such as rivers, ponds, and lakes.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Health says the amoeba is present in fresh water all over the country.

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