WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – The death of Lily Mae Avant touched the hearts of many people. 10-year-old Lily Mae passed away in 2019 after being infected by a brain eating amoeba at the Brazos River. Since then, her mother Laci Avant has been working hard to keep her daughters memory alive.
“Spreading awareness. It’s not something that we knew about this amoeba. And so we just want to get the word out. We want people to know the dangers and, you know, the precautions,” says Lily Mae’s mother, Laci Avant.
Lily Mae started to experience symptoms five days after being infected.
“She started running a fever, was complaining of a headache. No matter what medicine I gave her, the fever wouldn’t go down and the headache wouldn’t go away,” says Avant.
Laci took her daughter to the hospital in search for answers.
“We ran a bunch of tests. It wasn’t the flu. It wasn’t strep. He didn’t really know what was going on with her. And it was kind of mimicking meningitis, which is what this amoeba does,” says Avant.
Every year as temperatures rise so does the risk of being infected by a brain-eating amoeba that lives in all freshwater. Although the infection is rare, awareness and prevention are the best way to avoid these tragic deaths.
Visiting one of Texas’ many lakes, rivers or pools can be the answer to a hot summer day, but it is important to know the risks of visiting these surface waters. Texas’ freshwater, and sometimes pools, can be home to a brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria Fowleri. Naegleria Fowleri can cause a deadly disease called Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, or PAM, which attacks the central nervous system.
“The risk factors when that water goes up your nose. And so any activities that you’re doing where there’s a potential for water to go up your nose, then that’s going to present a risk,” says assistant director at the Waco Public Health District, Stephanie Alvey.
To prevent infection, the CDC recommends wearing nose clips, or holding your nose, and avoiding submerging your head under water.
Laci has started a Love Like Lily foundation in honor of her daughter. At the Love Like Lily foundation benefits, Avant raises money to help children in need.”
“Every year we want to be able to buy those plugs. So nobody has to buy those plugs. We want to be able if anybody is in need of nose plugs, we want to be able to send them to them for free. That way, at least, you know, they’re wearing them. They have them We just we want to raise awareness. We want to get the word out,” says Avant.
On Saturday June 11th, there will be Love Like Lily Foundation Benefit at The Spice Rack, 133 S. Wilson St., Burleson, Texas 76028 from 2-6 pm.