Boy, 7, dies after contracting rare brain-eating parasite from swimming in lake

A seven-year-old boy has died after contracting a rare brain-eating parasite while swimming in a lake in the US.

David Pruitt was taken to hospital hours after being infected with the deadly bug on July 30.

Tributes are flooding in for the lad after his family announced he has since died of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, commonly known as PAM.

They said: "We are sad and broken-hearted to report that our sweet little David has passed on.

"He is now in the loving arms of our Lord and family members who have passed before him. We are rejoicing in knowing he is no longer in pain and in the best of care."

His family is now warning others of the waterborne bug Naegleria fowleri after David was confirmed dead on August 7, CBS News reports.

The deadly amoeba is often found in warm fresh bodies of water such as rivers or lakes, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

Cases have been reported in untreated swimming pools and it typically enters the body through the nose.

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"Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal,' the CDC says.

Those who contract the parasite initially suffer from severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, and have also reported a stiff neck and even hallucinations and seizures as the infection worsens.

David's aunt Crystal Hayley told CBS that the family "wants people to be aware of this amoeba and the illness signs".

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His death came almost a year after a six-year-old Texas boy, Josiah McIntyre, died in September 2020 after contracting the same strain of parasite at either the Lake Jackson splashpad or a hose at his family's home, CBS News reported at the time.

Three samples of contaminated water taken from the Lake Jackson splashpad were tested by the CDC two weeks after McIntyre's death, and all three ultimately tested positive for the deadly bacteria.

At a benefit days after McIntyre's tragic passing, his mother recounted the life her boy lived.

"He was an active little boy," Maria Castillo told CNN at the time. "He was a really good big brother. He just loved and cared about a lot of people."

Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, according to the CDC, with only 34 infections reported in the US from 2010 to 2019.

And in California, there have only been 10 reported cases since 1971, according to an August 4 press release by Tehama County Health Services Agency.

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