Girl dies after contracting brain-eating bug 'from pool' while on holiday

Stefanía was rushed to hospital two weeks after she started feeling ill.

A 10-year-old girl has died after allegedly contracting a brain-eating bug from a swimming pool.

Stefanía Villamizar González developed ear pain, a fever and began vomiting two days into her family holiday. She was treated for a suspected ear infection before returning home, where her discomfort eased off.

However — two weeks after her initial symptoms — the young girl struggled to get out of bed and suddenly began convulsing. She was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she remained under strict medical care until her death more than three weeks later.

Stefanía Villamizar González in a bathing suit next to a pool and wearing a green head band before dying from a  brain-eating bug..
Stefanía Villamizar González died from a brain-eating bug she contracted during a family holiday. Source: Jam Press

After a weeks-long investigation, experts labelled her cause of death as amoebic encephalitis — a rare central nervous system infection with a 95 per cent chance of death. They believe it was caused by Naegleria fowleri, often dubbed the “brain-eating amoeba”, which can be found in badly managed pools or stagnant water.

Girl's family 'destroyed'

Devastated Tatiana González believes her daughter contracted the infection through her nose as she played in the water in Santa Marta, Colombia, in June. Stefanía was a keen tennis player, skater, and ballet dancer who dreamed of becoming a gymnast.

“We share our story so that other children and families do not suffer what we are going through,” a close relative told local media. “We are destroyed, devastated.” The operations manager of the hotel where Stefanía is believed to have contracted the amoeba has pledged to reinforce safety standards. Local media made no mention of any criminal charges.

Jam Press

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