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'It was already too late': Local family raising awareness after daughter died from brain-eating amoeba in 2019

Lily Strong
Posted at 5:50 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 18:51:34-04

MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas (KXXV) — Heading into the warmer months, that means Central Texas is probably wanting to go for a swim. A local mother and father are urging the community to proceed with caution as they share their daughter's story after she died from a bacteria in the Brazos River.

  • 10-year-old Lily Avant went swimming in 2019 in the Brazos River — after a few days she began to feel sick with nausea, and headaches.
  • Lily later died after she was diagnosed with Naeglaria Fowleri.
  • Naeglaria Fowleri is a brain-eating amoeba that lives naturally in freshwater lakes, ponds and splash pads. The CDC says “it can cause a brain infections when water containing the amoeba goes up the nose".

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

“So sassy and bossy, and just — she was perfect,” Laci Avant said.

It was a typical Labor Day weekend for 10-year-old Lily Avant and her family in 2019, swimming in the Brazos River. But a few days after the fun, she began to feel sick with nausea, and headaches.

“We found out she had a brain eating amoeba from being in the water — they gave her the medicine, but it was already too late.”

Naeglaria Fowleri is a brain eating amoeba that lives naturally in freshwater lakes, and ponds and splash pads. The CDC says “it can cause a brain infections when water containing the amoeba goes up the nose".

“We’ve never even heard of it before — we’d swim in that water all of our lives, and she was just the one who got it,” Avant said.

While only about three people in the U.S are infected each year, the diagnosis is usually fatal.

“The sooner you catch it and figure out what’s going on, the higher the chance you have of being able to get on the medication,” Avant said.

Lily’s parents Laci Avant and John Crawson now live their lives loving like Lily.

“I’m still mad and you know, ask why all the time, but I see the awareness that she’s raising,” Laci Avant said.

They're also educating the community on how they can save a life.

“We don’t want to deter anybody from having fun in the water — but if you’re gonna wear a life jacket, might as well wear nose plugs,” John Crawson said.

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