Central Texas woman who lost daughter to rare ‘brain eating’ amoeba works to spread awareness

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 7:07 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(KWTX) - Laci Avant, whose 10-year-old daughter Lily Mae Avant died in a Fort Worth hospital after contracting a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in the Brazos River and Lake Whitney over the Labor Day weekend in 2019, is working to spread awareness about the rare amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, which is found in warm and hot freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers.

Lily, a fifth-grader at Valley Mils Elementary School developed a headache and fever after swimming in a pool the next weekend.

“It was almost like she had the flu, she was running a fever,” Avant said.

“We took her to the doctor, and he tested her for everything. flu, strep. It was summertime. You don’t get the flu in the summertime.”

Later they learned the headaches and fever were symptoms of primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), an illness caused by the amoeba.

“She was just a fiery little redhead, she was my only baby,” Avant said.

Lily died on Sept 15, 2019.

We need more people to know about this amoeba because it’s serious,” Avant said.

“It’s in all freshwater. If we would have known, we would have taken better precautions.”

The precautions are simple.

The amoeba travels into the body through the nose so to prevent it, swimmers should either wear a nose plug or avoid putting their heads underwater.

“We don’t want anybody to have to go through the loss and the nightmare that we have to every day so if we could just save one life,” Avant said

There is a fishing tournament benefit at Harbor Resort and Rentals on Lake Whitney to raise awareness and funds. It was initially scheduled for Saturday. The tournament has been postponed to July 10 due to imminent weather.

A portion of the proceeds will go toward buying nose plugs to be distributed free at businesses surrounding the lake and to support amoeba awareness charities.

Copyright 2021 KWTX. All rights reserved.