WESTERVILLE, Ohio — An Ohio teenager has died after she contracted a brain-eating amoeba while swimming on a trip to North Carolina last week.
The 18-year-old girl belonged to Church of the Messiah United Methodist Church in Westerville, and last week she traveled with the church to West Virginia and North Carolina, singing at churches and nursing homes, according to WCMH,
Before they left North Carolina, the group spent a day at the U.S. Whitewater Center in Charlotte.
“They had one day of recreation where they stopped at the U.S. Whitewater Center and went whitewater rafting and they had a grand day,” senior Pastor Jim Wilson told WCMH.
While swimming, the girl contracted meningoencephalitis, according to a representative of Westerville City Schools. She died on Father’s Day.
“We will deeply miss her, but we were so blessed by her presence and her gifts that she just shared in a beautiful way,” Wilson said. “She was a special person.”
The U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte said it met with health officials from Mecklenburg County on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the case.
The disease is very rare and is only contracted through natural water sources when water is drawn into the body through the nose, according to the health department.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said symptoms start one to nine days after the water is ingested. Early symptoms can include severe headaches, fever, nausea, and vomiting. More severe symptoms include a stiff neck, seizures altered mental states, hallucinations, and a coma.