A case of parasitic meningitis has frightened residents in Little Rock Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has confirmed one case. The ADH has issued a statement to answer residents’ questions and address concerns.
Working with the Centers for Disease Control, the ADH has confirmed one case of a rare kind of meningitis. The disease was likely transferred by an amoeba. An amoeba is a tiny jelly like organism that lives in bodies of water.
As reported by My Fox Memphis, contact with the amoeba was likely made at the Willow Springs Water Park. In 2010, another case of parasitic meningitis was traced back to the same park.
The AHD has requested that Willow Springs Water Park be closed pending further investigation.
Parasitic meningitis is caused by Naegleria fowleri. Infections occur when contaminated water enters the body through the nose.
People are not infected by drinking contaminated water, and the infection is not contagious.
Symptoms mimic bacterial meningitis, starting with a headache, fever, and a stiff neck. Later symptoms include confusion, loss of balance, and hallucinations. The disease usually causes death within two weeks.
The disease can be avoided by keeping pools chlorinated, not swimming at the bottom of lakes and rivers, or simply wearing nose plugs when swimming.
David and Lou Ann Ratliff, general managers of Willow Springs Water Park, issued the following statement:
“We, David and Lou Ann Ratliff, as general management of Willow Springs Water Park, have received new information regarding Naegleria fowleri, and have elected to close the park as of July 25 at the request of the Arkansas Department of Health. Though the odds of contracting Naegleria are extremely low, they are just not good enough to allow our friends or family to swim.”
The chance of contracting parasitic meningitis is extremely low. Only seven cases have been reported in Arkansas in the last 40 years. Only 31 cases were reported in the US in the last nine years. Despite the rarity, the ADH and CDC want residents to be aware of the situation.