Teen dies from brain-eating amoeba after rafting trip with her church
An Ohio teen has died after authorities believe she contracted a brain-eating amoeba while on vacation with her church youth choir.
Lauren Seitz, 18, was traveling with the group from Church of The Messiah, United Methodist to sing at churches and nursing homes when they went on a rafting trip in North Carolina.
That one day likely cost the rising college freshman her life. She died on Sunday from Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis.
While it is not entirely clear where Seitz picked up the infection, the rafting trip at the U.S. National Whitewater Center was the only time she came in contact with water during the incubation period of the deadly Naegleria fowleri amoeba, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Reached for comment, the U.S. National Whitewater Center said in a statement: "The levels of UV radiation disinfection utilized every day, continuously, at the Center are sufficient to 'inactivate' the water born amoeba in question to an effective level of 99.99%."
The center said they are working closely with health officials as they investigate the matter.
The one-celled microscopic organism commonly occurs in warm fresh waters. While drinking water that is contaminated with the amoeba does not cause disease, Naegleria fowleri becomes infectious when water containing the organism goes up a person's nose.
When a person becomes infected, Naegleria fowleri is almost always deadly. According to CDC statistics, only 3 people out of 138 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2015 have survived.
Jim Wilson II, pastor at Church of the Messiah, posted condolences to Seitz's family in a Facebook post Sunday.
"Our deepest condolences are extended to Church of the Messiah's youth group in the sudden passing of one of our youth members," Wilson wrote.
"Lauren was a beautiful young lady, recent grad of Westerville South HS and planning on attending Dennison University this Fall. Last week she went on our youth choir tour. She will be greatly missed by her friends.
"May God bless our youth group in their grieving and may Gods presence wrap around Lauren's parents and sister in this time of loss. For all the smiles that Lauren brought to our church we are thankful and blessed. RIP Lauren."
In a touching obituary, it was said that 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."
A celebration of her life was scheduled for Saturday.