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Published: Fri, June 23, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Parents sue waterpark where daughter caught deadly brain-eating amoeba

Parents sue waterpark where daughter caught deadly brain-eating amoeba

Yearly, Whitewater Center attracts more than 800,000 visitors, and gathers more than $18 million in revenue.

A few days later, Lauren died, and doctors revealed she had a deadly parasitic infection caused by an amoeba. The reason the lawsuit states that they should be held accountable is that both "were grossly negligent and reckless", enabling the conditions to exist that led to Seitz' death from the brain eating amoeba. The organism often lives in warm bodies of freshwater, like lakes during the summer. The lawsuit says Seitz contracted the amoeba after she was thrown overboard while whitewater rafting at the park.

A lawsuit against the U.S. National Whitewater Center was filed Monday, just over year after an OH teen contracted a brain-eating amoeba when she was rafting at the facility. She was hospitalized and diagnosed with an infection caused by Naegleria fowleri.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said at the time that Lauren's only known underwater exposure was believed to be when she rode a raft with several others that overturned at Charlotte's water park.

Following Seitz's death, the water park shut down the whitewater channel where Seitz rafted for two months. It enters the nose and goes to the brain, where it causes swelling and death. Symptoms of becoming infected with Naegleria fowleri include hallucinations and seizures, fever, headaches, and vomiting.

According to the CDC, water samples taken from the U.S. National Whitewater Center not long after Seitz passed away confirmed that the water tested positive for the presence of the brain eating amoeba.

"Our findings here are significant", Dr. Jennifer Cope, an infectious disease physician at the CDC, said at the time.

The CDC collected "multiple positive samples" from the water park. Copes continues that due to the dirt and debris in the water, the amoeba was able to grow until it reached such high concentrations.

The whitewater center closed for several weeks to work alongside health officials after the teen's death.

The lawsuit says "Lauren and other visitors had a higher likelihood of encountering Naegleria fowleri in the unregulated waters of U.S. National Whitewater Center than they did by simply rafting in the nearby Catawba River".

The suit, filed in OH where Lauren Seitz lived, alleges the park's popular rafting channels were unsafe and that park operators showed "conscious disregard for the safety of visitors".

The lawsuit claims the center failed to properly chlorinate the water, failed to regulate the temperature of the water and failed to warn visitors of the possible danger. The lawsuit maintains that the water in the whitewater rafting area "was too shallow". Therefore, the park was forced to change their filtration system.

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