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Suspicion surrounding Charlotte County's waters after person becomes infected, dies from rare amoeba

Posted at 10:12 PM, Mar 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-03 06:42:49-05

CHARLOTTE CO., Fla. — An update from the Department of Health in Charlotte County after someone became infected and died from a brain-eating amoeba.

The infection comes after that person used unboiled tap water to clear their sinuses. Now, the Department of Health is asking the public to avoid any tap water from entering nasal cavities.

It’s a potential health risk that has some parents worried.

"Things are in the water…”

Suspicion surrounding Charlotte County's waters as children play at a local splash pad.

“This is the first time I've ever heard of anything like this so I think it's safe," said Frank Petrock, who lives in Port Charlotte. "I wouldn't worry about it at this point.”

News reached the park of a person living in the county who became infected with a rare amoeba called Naegleria Fowleri and died from the infection. We first told you about this story last week, trying to get answers from the Department of Health.

Today, we tried going to county leaders for answers but we did not hear back. Even sending emails to county commissioners but no response. It's this lack of information that's concerning some residents.

“I just haven't seen anything or heard anything about it.”

Like Claudia and other parents at McGuire Park, feeling left in the dark.

"It's scary to hear that," she says. "But, like I said, there was no information or I haven't heard anything about it.”

It's believed this person became infected through tap water as they rinsed their sinuses. The Department of Health tells Fox 4 there is no risk of infection by drinking tap water, but to avoid water entering the nose.

The Department of Health is providing informational packets at their main office off Loveland Boulevard. Inside, you'll find pamphlets about water safety, a nasal clip for better protection and a small card relating to the amoeba.

"How?" asks Petrock. "You know, first of all. What the circumstances were.”

It still has some baffled like Frank Petrock.

"Apparently they were being safe but they just took it for granted that the water was no problem.”

One of the first things Petrock noticed at the splash pad, he says, was the distinct smell of chlorine.

“I don't know if they did more today or just keeping more at higher levels, but you have to be careful too," he says. "It's not a thing to have extra chlorine in it but you can't put too much. You can smell it — you can always smell it.”

Whether it's higher amounts of chlorine or a nasal clip, some are thinking twice before entering the water.

"We were actually thinking about going to the water park in North Port," said Claudia. "So now I'm like thinking about it before I do anything like that now.”