In Little Rock, Arkansas, a 16-month-old boy tragically lost his life to a brain-eating amoeba, marking the fifth such fatality in the United States this year. The toddler, Michael Alexander Pollock III, contracted the deadly amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, while playing at a splash pad at the Country Club of Little Rock and passed away on September 4.
Michael, known for his captivating smile and playful nature, left a profound impact on his family, friends, and even strangers he encountered during his short life. His parents, Michael Jr. and Julia Pollock were out of state at the time of the incident. The Arkansas Department of Health confirmed that the child was likely exposed to the amoeba at the splash pad, leading to his untimely death.
Michael was treated at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, where he ultimately succumbed to the infection. The Health Department, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tested water samples from the splash pad. The results confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri in one of the samples.
The Country Club of Little Rock has been cooperative with the ongoing investigation, according to the Health Department. The club’s pool has since been closed, and a cleaning service was spotted on the premises.
Naegleria fowleri is a microorganism found in warm, low-level fresh water such as rivers, lakes, and streams. It can also survive in chlorinated water. While it rarely affects humans, it can be deadly when inhaled through the nose, as it then travels to the brain.
Michael’s death marks the fifth fatality linked to Naegleria fowleri in the U.S. this year. Other victims include a Texas resident who contracted the amoeba while swimming in Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, a Georgia resident who died after swimming in a freshwater lake, a young boy in Nevada, and a Florida man who got infected after rinsing his nose with tap water.