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Last updated on Tuesday, September 4, 2012
(LOOGOOTEE) - 31-year-old Waylon Abel, of Loogootee, died from a very rare brain-eating disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM.
Nate Smith of the Washington Times-Herald reports that an autopsy, requested by the family, concluded Able he died from herniation and swelling caused from the disease. He died on Aug. 7 at St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville.
The disease, also known in some circles as the "brain-eating amoeba," is very rare but can be fatal if one catches the parasite. The parasite, called naegleria fowleri, is found in warm freshwater bodies.
Family members believe Abel ingested the very rare parasite from swimming at the beach at West Boggs Lake in July. West Boggs officials closed the beach Friday.
West Boggs Superintendent Mike Axsom said in a press release that officials decided to close the beach as a precaution and until further information could be gathered.
"Very little is known about PAM because the illness is so rare that there are not even standardized tests or protocols for how to deal with it," Axsom said in the release. "Because of this lack of information, we decided that the Health Department was probably not going to be able to qualify or quantify any presence of this here or anyplace else it might be found.
"After trying for a week to get advice from other agencies, we decided that the science is apparently just not there to make the same kind of informed decisions we might make with other pathogens."
The Daviess County Health Department sent out a press release that says further testing is being done.
According to Waylon's father John Able, his son went swimming at the beach on West Boggs Park July 15. Twenty-three days later, Waylon was dead.
John said his son was feeling bad around Aug. 3, complaining of headaches, nausea and stiffness. He rested until the morning of Aug. 6, when his girlfriend, Rene Sipes, felt he needed to go to the hospital.
Waylon called his father before he left saying he needed pray and was scared.
He was taken to the emergency room at Jasper Memorial Hospital where he was treated and then discharged with medication for bacterial and viral meningitis. The doctor there told the family Waylon would be better in a couple days.
But Waylon was not. He got worse and then was taken back to Jasper Memorial later that evening at around 7 p.m.
From there, he progressively became worse.
At 2 a.m. Waylon was taken for a for CAT scan and 90 minutes later, the family was told there was no hope.
That is when John decided to take his son to a hospital where there was a neurologist on staff. He was taken by helicopter to St. Mary's. There doctors told John too much time had passed and there was nothing they could do for Waylon. He died at 4:25 p.m.
Primary amebic meningeoencephalitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control, comes from an infection from the naegleria, a single-celled organism that commonly lives in warm freshwater.
The Naegleria folweri enters the body, according to the CDC, through the nose, after which it travels up to the brain and starts destroying brain tissue.
Waylon left behind three children, a fiancee and several siblings.
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