Complete coverage of Texas' record heat wave of 2011

N. Texas Family Warns About Amoeba Danger

7-year-old Arlington boy died nearly one year ago

By Scott Gordon
|  Wednesday, Aug 17, 2011  |  Updated 2:39 PM CDT
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An Arlington family is warning swimmers about a deadly amoeba that thrives in this summer's hot lake temperatures.

Scott Gordon, NBCDFW.com

An Arlington family is warning swimmers about a deadly amoeba that thrives in this summer's hot lake temperatures.

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One year after a 7-year-old Arlington boy died after contracting an amoeba while swimming, his family is warning that the parasite thrives in this summer's extreme heat.

Kyle Lewis died Aug. 29 after his family went to the Paluxy River.

"It was a great trip," said his father, Jeremy Lewis, on Tuesday. "I can remember a few times when we were there saying, 'Wow, this is great.'"

Within days, Kyle got sick with flu-like symptoms.

When his condition worsened, his family took him to the hospital, but doctors weren't sure what was wrong with him until they discovered the amoeba a few days later.

There is no cure once amoebas enter the body.

Kyle died four days after being admitted to the hospital.

"I want everyone to hear this from here to the end of the world," Lewis said.

Amoebas generally thrive in lake temperatures hotter than 80 degrees. In this summer's heat spell, most lakes in North Texas are well warmer than 80 degrees.

"Now, more than ever, people need to take precautions and take heed to what we're trying to tell them, because awareness is key," Lewis said.

Just this month, the infection has claimed the lives of two more swimmers, including 16-year-old Courtney Nash in Florida.

The parasites enter the body through the nose, experts say.

To avoid any problems, Lewis suggests people wear a swim mask or nose plugs or simply avoid getting in warm water that covers the face.

Lewis and his wife have formed the Kyle Lewis Amoeba Awareness Foundation to help spread the warning.

"Look yourself in the mirror before you go to the lake and ask yourself a real simple question: Is one swim worth your child's life?" Lewis asked.

It's a question he hopes everyone will ask so that nobody else will experience his grief.

"Every day of our life is tough," he said. "People say time heals. Time doesn't heal a broken heart."

More: Amoeba Awareness, North Texas Water Temps


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