Lauren Seitz, an 18-year-old woman from Ohio, died from a brain-eating amoeba that officials believe she encountered while whitewater rafting.
Doctors traced Seitz’s death to primary amebic meningoencephalitis. That is an infection caused by the naegleria fowleri amoeba which is often found in warm fresh water. The amoeba can enter the brain by entering a person’s body through their nose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently testing the water at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. On June 8, Seitz was at the center rafting with a church youth music group. Unfortunately, her raft overturned, and it is believed that would have provided an entry point for the amoeba to go in her nose.
Her obituary noted her love of music and said, “Lauren understood the overwhelming beauty and fragility of life with uncommon clarity and cared so deeply about the welfare of other people and this world we all share. Her genuine kindness and encouragement will continue to inspire and comfort everyone who knew her.”
Despite the incident, the other people who were also on her raft did not become sick.
The young woman graduated from Westerville South High School in May, and was planning to study environmental science, with a minor in music, at Denison University in Ohio.
138 people have been recorded as being infected with naegleria fowleri, and only 3 have survived.
On the CDC website it says people should “assume that naegleria fowleri is present in warm freshwater across the United States” and as a result they should avoid getting that water up their nose.