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DFW Family’s Foundation Fights Amoeba Deaths

By Susy Solis, CBS 11 News
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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - On the two year anniversary of Kyle Lewis’ death, his family is launching a new campaign to help save others from the deadly amoeba that killed their son.

During a camping trip with his family in August 2009, 7-year-old Kyle, swam in Lake Granbury and the Puloxi River. During his swim, Kyle ingested an amoeba called naegleria fowleri through his nose. Kyle felt sick and was taken to the hospital on a Thursday. By Sunday morning, Kyle was dead, diagnosed with primary amebic meningoencephalitis.

“To lose a child to this, while you’re doing something fun with your family, is just hell on earth,” said Jeremy Lewis, Kyle’s father.

Since his son’s death, the Lewis family’s mission has been to raise awareness about the brain eating amoeba that lives in warm fresh water such as lakes, rivers and ponds. The Kyle Lewis Amoeba Awareness Foundation was created and, in their latest push to save lives, the family is giving away nose plugs to anyone who plans to spend time in fresh water. “I’m not ever going to tell anybody not to take their kids,” Jeremy Lewis said. “But for my family, I can’t look at a body of water without seeing what killed my son.”

The foundation’s motto is “Keeping it Rare, with Kyle Cares.”

The amoeba naeglaria fowleri is common, but infections are rare, according to the CDC. But Lewis fears there are more cases than people realize. “It’s not a nationally notifiable disease, so we truly don’t know what the real number is unless they actually know about it and they go looking for it,” Jeremy Lewis said.

Currently, the CDC only tracks naeglari fowleri infections if a state health department notifies them. As part of his work with the foundation, Jeremy Lewis is pushing the CDC to make it a nationally notifiably disease, which he believes would raise awareness.

Until then, the Kyle Lewis Amoeba Awareness Foundation has become a resource for victims across the country. “This is Kyle’s legacy, so when we see people get it and we see people understand what we are doing, we know that Kyle is living on,” Jeremy Lewis said.

Kyle would have been 9 years old this year. Though the foundation has made significant progress in raising awareness, the pain of Kyle’s loss lingers on for the family. “Luckily, we’re busy. But at the same time we relive it with everything that we do. We just don’t want anybody else to go through this. That’s the bottom line,” Jeremy Lewis said.

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