LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A report from the Arkansas Department of Health documents multiple code violations at the Little Rock splash pad where a child became infected with a deadly brain-eating amoeba.
On Sept. 14, ADH officials confirmed that someone who had used a splash pad at the Country Club of Little Rock had been exposed to Naegleria Fowleri, a rare amoeba that can cause a brain-tissue-destroying infection. KARK 4 News later confirmed that the person was a child.
A letter sent to the Country Club of Little Rock on Thursday outlined seven different violations found by ADH staff during a Sept. 3 inspection.
Among the violations found by inspectors were issues with the pH levels of a pool and the splash pad, the chlorinator for the splash pad being broken and the chlorine levels exceeding the maximum allowable levels.
Inspectors also found larger issues with the pools, with a flow meter not working, water from a leak in an equipment room being pumped into a surge pit and maintenance records not being kept.
The ADH included a special note stating that state officials felt that the pool & splash pad should not have even been opened with these recurring issues.
The letter went on to state the pool and splash pad are to remain closed until all of the issues noted in the report have been addressed and are in compliance with regulations.
The ADH noted that an operation permit will not be issued until an inspection comes back completely free of compliance violations. If the pool or splash pad opens before this, the ADH warned that legal action against the country club could take place.
Someone infected by Naegleria Fowleri can develop primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, which has symptoms including severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting which then escalates to stiff neck, seizures, and coma that can lead to death.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that PAM is almost always fatal, though the last case of infection in Arkansas in 2013 saw then-12-year-old Kali Hardig surviving after being hospitalized for 55 days.
Now living out of state, Hardig still deals with some lasting effects of the infection.
“It causes me to have some blurry vision every now and then, but that’s about the only long-lasting effect I have from it,” she said.
KARK 4 News has reached out to the Country Club of Little Rock about the letter from the ADH, but as of the publishing of this report, club management has not replied.
KARK 4 News was able to obtain these documents after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.