‘Extraordinary’ teen killed by brain-eating amoeba in Georgia

Straight A senior Megan Ebenroth, 17, died of a brain infection 11 days after contracting the Naegleria fowleri infection

Bevan Hurley
Friday 04 August 2023 11:11 BST
Brain-eating amoeba kills swimmer

A Georgia teenager has died after contracting a rare brain-eating amoeba while swimming.

High school senior Megan Ebenroth, 17, fell ill after going swimming with friends in a lake near her home in McDuffie County. She passed away 11 days later on 22 July, her mother Chrissy Ebenroth told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I’m still in shock,” Chrissy Ebenroth told the newspaper. “But I can’t keep silent about her. She was extraordinary.”

The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed a resident of the state had died after developing the brain-eating amoeba, also known as Naegleria fowleri infection, without naming Megan.

The disease is spread when water containing the amoeba goes up a person’s nose and into the brain, the public health department said.

It destroys brain tissue, causing brain swelling, and usually death. Around three cases are recorded in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ms Ebenroth told WLTX her daughter’s condition deteriorated rapidly, as she experienced migraines, headaches, fever and loss of balance.

Megan Ebenroth was an ‘extraordinary’ person, her heartbroken mother Chrissy says

She was taken to hospital, where doctors intubated her and placed her in a medically-induced coma but it was already too late, Ms Ebenroth said.

“I had the best doctors and nurses. I don’t blame anyone,” Ms Ebenroth told the Journal-Constitution.

“This was an act of God. Right now, I’ve got to figure out why.”

Her cause of death was brain infection, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Megan Ebenroth, 17, died after contracting a deadly brain-eating amoeba while swimming

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, symptoms of Naegleria fowleri usually start within five days with severe headaches, fevers, nausea and vomiting, before progressing to stiffness, seizures, and a coma.

The disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within five days.

It said that while the risk was low, residents should be aware of the risk whenever entering warm fresh water.

Megan Ebenroth was a gifted, straight A senior student at Thomson High School near Augusta, her mother said.

The Journal-Constitution noted she was president of the school’s Beta Club, vice president of the Spanish club, and a member of the school tennis team.

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