Eddie Gray loved his grandchildren. He loved NASCAR. And he loved being on the water and finding time to kayak and fish in the blazing summer in North Carolina.
He was also a devout man who took time to do numerous activities with his Methodist church, including a mission trip to Fantasy Lake Water Park on July 12th.
Gray, 59, was in the water when he came across Naegleria fowleri a single-celled organism known to be grimmer than the brain-eating amoeba, health authorities said in a statement. Ten days later, on Monday, he died of an illness caused by the amoeba.
A fatal but rare infection of N. fowleri that occurs naturally in freshwater is triggered by a three-step series of events. From 1962 to 2018, 145 known infections occurred in the United States, where low water temperatures, low water levels, and water flowing through the nostril threw the amoebae at the brain centers for the control and prevention of disease. A 16-year-old from Florida braved the odds and survived the infection in 2016.
Gray is not.
His death was tragic and outmoded, said Justin Plummer, a lawyer who represented his assets, in a statement asking for respect for family privacy.
The infection infects the central nervous system and triggers a flood of symptoms such as fever, vomiting and later hallucinations, coma and a stiff neck characteristic.
The disease is notoriously difficult, the CDC said, because it progresses so fast and signs begin just days after contact. A diagnosis is often made after death.
Health officials said the amoeba can not cause infection by drinking water and does not live in saltwater.
Five infections have occurred in North Carolina, the state said.
"People should be aware that this organism lives in warm freshwater lakes, rivers and hot springs in North Carolina, so be careful when swimming or water sports," said state epidemiologist Zack Moore.
For example, use nose clips in the water, keep your head above the surface, and do not stir sediments in shallow waters. Note, however, that "there is no way to remove this amoeba from freshwater lakes."
Fantasy Lake Water Park, centered on an artificial lake, has not returned a comment. On its homepage, the park has published a note listing the rare amoeba risk. However, it is unclear when the notice was published. According to an archived site, the park had no such warning on its side last summer.
Beverly, his 32-year-old wife, a daughter and two grandchildren, as well as other family members, survive his obituary, Gray said.
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