Lowcountry girl who contracted brain infection dies

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — The 11-year-old girl with Lowcountry ties who contracted a deadly brain-eating amoeba has died.

Hannah Collins died Friday, August 5 at 10:20 p.m., according to a family statement provided to The Beaufort Gazette.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed Tuesday, August 2 that someone had been exposed to Naegleria fowleri.  “The exposure is thought to have occurred on July 24 while the individual was swimming near Martin’s Landing on the Edisto River in Charleston County,” officials said in a statement. The patient was not identified.

The family asked for continued prayers Thursday after being told Hannah had irreparable brain damage.

The organism, which is very rare, is found only in fresh water and only contracted when jumping feet-first into the water and can be fatal if forced up the nose.

“You should avoid swimming or jumping into bodies of fresh water when the water is warm and the water levels are low. Also, you should either hold your nose or use a nose plug. You cannot be infected by merely drinking water containing the ameba,” Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist said.

SCDHEC says there have been fewer than 40 cases reported nationwide in the past ten years.

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