Teen dies of brain-eating amoeba after whitewater rafting

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US National Whitewater Center

Competitors practice strokes at the US National Whitewater Center. An 18-year-old Ohio girl died after contracting a brain-eating amoeba called naegleria fowleri on a trip to the center. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

- An 18-year-old Westerville, Ohio, teen has died after she contracted a brain-eating amoeba called naegleria fowleri.

The teen was whitewater rafting on a trip with her church in Charlotte, North Carolina, when she contracted it.

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Mitzi Kline with Franklin County Public Health told WBNS the girl died from meningoencephalitis, an infection the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is "rare and devastating."

People can not get infected by swallowing water contaminated with the naegleria. It usually enters the body through the nose and makes its way to the brain.

People who swim in freshwater places like lakes and rivers, such as the case of the 18-year-old, are in typical locations to contract the amoeba.

Kline said she died in Ohio, but was exposed to the amoeba on the trip.

WCMH reported that Jim Wilson, senior pastor at Church of the Messiah United Methodist Church where the girl was part of the music ministry group, said, "She was an incredible person, so full of life."

The girl traveled with 31 other students from  Ohio to West Virginia to North Carolina. They sang at nursing homes and churches.

"They had one day of recreation where they stopped at the U.S. Whitewater Center and went whitewater rafting and they had a grand day," Wilson said, adding it was the only time the group was in a place with water.

"We will deeply miss her, but we were so blessed by her presence and her gifts that she just shared in a beautiful way," Wilson said. "She was a special person."

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