It’s one of those scenarios that most people think “this would never happen to me.” It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but tragically, it happened to 18-year-old Lauren Seitz. Although it is horrible, it is bringing the community together in a way they never have before.
Lauren was a favorite among teachers and students. She got good grades, was a part of her school’s band, and was excited to head to Denison University in the fall. She wanted to study environmental science and music…but she wanted to do something fun before her college career began.
She went with her church group to a white water rafting park in Charlotte, North Carolina to try out white water rafting. The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, is actually common, found mainly in warm freshwater – think lakes, rivers, or hot springs – and soil. It is also found in less obvious places, such as poorly chlorinated swimming pool water, or warmed contaminated tap water entering through the nose…however, many people come into contact with the ameoba every day, and an infection from it is extremely rare.
Acording to the CDC, only about 200 cases have been reported in the past 50 years, although all but 3 proved fatal.
Swallowing the amoeba won’t cause an infection, but they still aren’t 100% sure why some people contract the infection and so many don’t. In Lauren’s case, primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or simply an infection of the brain was contracted, and she died as a result.
But Lauren had a message that banded her community together: “Life on Earth is so precious.” She asked for donations to be made to funds that support the music she loved in life instead of flowers, and the proceeds will help sponsor children who wish to explore their love for music, something that she found absolutely beautiful.