A 29-year-old New Jersey man died in September of a brain-eating parasite after swimming in a wave pool at a Texas resort, and now, seven months later, his mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the resort.
Fabrizio Stabile swam at the BSR Cable Park in Waco, Texas during a visit to the area, before returning home to New Jersey. Then on Sept. 16, Stabile was mowing the lawn when he had to stop due to a severe headache. He took medication and slept through the night, but was still dealing with pain the next day, and went back to sleep with more medication.
That afternoon, his mother tried to wake him up but Stabile was unable to get out of bed or speak coherently, and he was rushed to the hospital, according to his GoFundMe page.
Doctors treated him for bacterial meningitis after seeing that he had brain swelling and a fever, but he didn’t respond to the medication and his condition worsened.
After four days of testing, they finally determined on Thursday that Stabile had contracted the rare Naegleria fowleri parasite, but it was too late to help. He died the next day, Sept. 21.
His mother, Rita Stabile, is seeking $1 million in damages from BSR, which she said could have prevented her son’s death “had they exercised ordinary care in the operation of their water park,” the Houston Chronicle reports.
The lawsuit also argues that the park’s “blue-green dyed waves masked a pathogen soup in which Naegleria fowleri amoeba — ‘the brain-eating amoeba’ — could thrive.”
Stuart E. Parsons Jr., the owner of BSR Cable Park, shared his condolences to the Stabile family and said that “only God knows where he got the amoeba,” the Waco Tribune-Herald reports. But in the months since, he installed a $2 million “state-of-the-art” filtration system approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. The park has since reopened for the 2019 season.
Cases of Naegleria fowleri are extremely rare, with just 34 reported infections in the U.S. between 2008 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And surviving it is unlikely — of the 143 known cases total, between 1962 and 2017, just 4 people have survived, a 97 percent fatality rate.
The BSR Cable Park closed temporarily the day after Stabile’s death so the CDC could test the area, the Associated Press reported.
Naegleria fowleri is most likely to be found in warm water temperatures, at 115 degrees or higher. It occurs in freshwater, such as lakes and rivers, or in poorly maintained swimming pools.
Stabile’s friends and family created The Fabrizio Stabile Foundation for Naegleria Fowleri Awareness, “to bring awareness to, and educate as many people as possible about, this rare and preventable infection,” they wrote on the GoFundMe page, which raised over $26,000.
“We aim to do this through an annual fundraiser in Fabrizio’s memory in hopes that this will not affect another family,” they said. “Please help us in keeping Fabrizio’s memory alive.”
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