Family shattered after 29-year-old surfer dies after contracting deadly brain-eating parasite in wave pool

Fabrizio Stabile was taken to a hospital in Pleasantville where medical staff initially thought the brain swelling and fever symptoms were caused by bacterial meningitis


                            Family shattered after 29-year-old surfer dies after contracting deadly brain-eating parasite in wave pool

A man in New Jersey has been killed by a brain-eating parasite that he may have contracted in a Texas wave pool, according to reports. Family members of 29-year-old Fabrizio Stabile have said that he complained of a violent headache on September 16 and became incoherent the next day.

He was also not able to get out of his own bed. The man was immediately taken to a hospital in Pleasantville, New Jersey, where medical staff initially thought the brain swelling and fever symptoms were caused by bacterial meningitis. After his condition started to deteriorate at an alarming pace even with meningitis treatments, the doctors decided to start running tests to find out what the actual cause of his condition was and the answer was not pretty.

The Daily Mail reported that only four days after Stabile's initial symptoms started appearing, the family received the heartbreaking news from the hospital that he had tested positive for Naegleria fowleri, an extremely rare brain-eating amoeba that kills 98% of the people it infects. The 29-year-old tragically died the day after the infection was found.

The avid outdoorsman is said to have contracted the infection when he went to a wave pool in Waco, Texas (GoFundMe)
The avid outdoorsman is said to have contracted the infection when he went to a wave pool in Waco, Texas (GoFundMe)

The obituary for Stabile described him as an "avid outdoorsman" who "loved snowboarding, surfing, and anything to do with friends and family". The man is believed to have contracted the amoebic infection after he visited the BSR Cable Park in Waco, Texas, where he is reported to have gone for a swim in the wave pool. It is still not clear where in the park Stabile visited specifically but symptoms of infections from the parasite normally show themselves between one and nine days after coming in contact with it.

The water park has been closed on a temporary basis so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can conduct an investigation. Stuart E. Parsons Jr., the owner of BSR Cable Park, has said: "Our hearts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the New Jersey surf community during this difficult time. BSR Surf Resort operates a state of the art artificial man-made wave. We are in compliance with the CDC guidelines and recommendations concerning Naegleria fowleri."

A spokesperson for the CDC said that they have conducted the preliminary testing of the waters and the results are expected to return sometime this week. Stabile's family founded the Fabrizio Stabile Foundation for Naegleria Fowleri Awareness after his death and it has raised more than $22,000 through GoFundMe in less than a week.  

Only five people in the entirety of North America have been known to have survived the parasitic infection (Source: GoFundMe)
Only five people in the entirety of North America have been known to have survived the parasitic infection (Source: GoFundMe)

According to reports from the CDC, only 143 diagnosed cases of the amoeba has been noted down since it was discovered 56 years ago. Of the 34 cases that have been reported in the country between 2008 and 2017, 30 people have been infected by recreational water, three people have been infected after they performed nasal irrigation using contaminated tap water, and one person was infected by contaminated tap water that was used on a backyard water toy.

Out of the few cases that have been reported, only five people in the entirety of North America have been known to have survived the parasitic infection. Three of the survivors had to be treated with drug therapy but Stabile's condition was discovered too late to start any treatment.