Man’s exposure to deadly amoeba ‘likely occurred’ at area water park

(Photo by Royden Ogletree/file)

WACO, Texas (KWTX) The water at the BSR Surf Resort “meets every standard for safety,” the resort’s owner, Stuart Parsons, said Friday, but local health officials later announced findings that indicate a visiting New Jersey man contracted a deadly brain-eating amoeba at the water park in September.

Tests were ordered after Fabrizio Stabile, 29, died after becoming infected with Naegleria fowleri, a rare brain-eating organism found in warm fresh water bodies that typically enters the body through the nose.

The tests by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Waco-McLennan County Health District and the Texas Department of State Health Services found evidence of the amoeba at the BSR Cable Park and Surf Resort, the health district said in a press release Friday.

"Epidemiologic and environmental assessment indicate that exposure likely occurred at this facility," the health district said.

The amoeba “was identified in the Cable Park, but not specifically found “in the Surf Resort, Lazy River, or the Royal Flush on the day of sampling,” although test findings indicated “conditions favorable for N. fowleri growth,” the health district said.

“The BSR water venues known as the Surf Resort, Lazy River, and the Royal Flush are currently closed and will not re-open without consultation with the (health district) and not before all health and safety issues have been addressed and mitigated appropriately,” the health district press release said.

“The Cable Park may remain open to the general public because the risk of exposure to N. fowleri is considered the same as any other natural bodies of freshwater and is not amenable to treatment.”

The health district “is working with the owner who is consulting with water treatment experts to evaluate the situation and develop a comprehensive water quality management plan to include current regulatory requirements,” the health district said.

Parsons said he has hired a North Carolina firm to install “a state-of-the-art filtration system to make our water in the surf, on lazy river, and at the Royal Flush slide is as clear and clean as humanly possible…working very closely with local, state and CDC.”

Parsons said he expects the installation to be completed by February.

“There are only a few of these man-made surf parks in the country today, but many more will be built. Our goal is to set the highest standard for these facilities. Going forward, BSR Surf Resort will have the cleanest water anywhere in the United States,” he said.

“We take pride in our park and the safety of every guest. And to be clear, it’s not just the guests that use the park. It’s also my family, our friends, and our employees that essentially live in our water. My two-year-old twins play on that beach, and, as kids do, they drink the water every time,” he said.

“So you better believe my cousin, who tests and treats the water every day, is damn sure no one gets sick.”

The park’s wave pool, which covers an area the size of three football fields, is attracting surfers from around the U.S. and beyond.

PerfectSwell technology created by the California based company American Wave Machines allows operators to produce ocean-like waves hundreds of miles from any coastline.

The park will serve as the practice facility for the new U.S. Olympic surfing team.