A young Florida boy has died after he fell ill from a rare brain-eating amoeba he encountered while on vacation at a campground this summer.
The family of Tanner Lake Wall, 13, said he died on August 2 following a family vacation to a North Florida campground equipped with a water park and lake.
'He was just somebody you always wanted to be around,' Travis Walls, of Palatka, told NewsJax4 about his son.
'He was very active. He loved the outdoors. He loves hunting, fishing,' his mother, Alicia Whitehill, added.
They said Tanner began experiencing concerning symptoms just two days after swimming with family and friends.
Tanner Lake Wall (pictured) died at age 13 after becoming infected with a rare brain-eating aomeoba this summer in Florida
'Nauseau, vomiting, pretty bad headaches,' Travis said, adding that Tanner also had a stiff neck.
The pair took their son to Putnam Community Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed Tanner with strep throat.
But Travis and Alicia had a feeling their son's illness was much more than that.
'Finally, I got pretty irate. She was irate at this point,' Travis told the publication.
'I said, "You know what? Unhook him. Do whatever you need to do. We will transport him ourselves. I’m standing at the front door. Come outside. We will take him where we have to go."'
The family said Tanner (pictured) began feeling sick with vomiting and headaches after swimming with others at a North Florida campground
The family said Tanner (pictured) was initially diagnosed with strep throat, but a trip to UF Health in Gainesville, Florida, revealed he was infected with Naegleria fowleri
They drove an hour away to UF Health in Gainesville, where Tanner was placed on a ventilator and doctors made a tragic discovery.
'They said, "We’re sorry to tell you this, but your son does not have bacterial meningitis. He has a parasitic amoeba, and there is no cure,"' said Travis.
The parasitic amoeba was Naegleria fowleri, or the 'brain-eating amoeba' typically found in warm freshwater that can cause a brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
They can also be found in contaminated tap water and poorly chlorinated swimming pools.
Alicia Whitehill (left) and Travis Wall (right) hopes the tragedy can bring awareness to other parents about the dangers of warm freshwater and Naegleria fowleri
'Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose,' according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
'This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. The Naegleria fowleri ameba then travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue.'
Naegleria fowleri is commonly referred to as the 'brain-eating amoeba' as it can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
But the infection is very rare, and according to the CDC, there have been about 35 cases reported in the U.S. in the last decade.
The single-celled organism is commonly found in warm freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs, as well as in