A grieving family in rural Australia are speaking out after a deadly parasite, which was thriving in their household water supply, killed their one-year-old son.
The Keough family say it’s a tragedy regional Australia needs to know about.
In April Jodi Keough’s precious boy, Cash, died after contracting a deadly parasite that, unknown to the family, thrived in their water. The extraordinarily rare disease – Naegleria fowleri – is little known, but doctors say the chance of survival is next to none.
Jodi and her husband Laine believed the water on their north-west Queensland cattle station was clean and safe and had no idea two other children had died from the disease just 100 kilometres from their homestead.
While deep in grief, they feel compelled to share their experience on Australian Story to warn other families of the potential danger.
“I do feel that it is my responsibility, I do feel like it’s up to me to prevent our nightmare becoming someone else’s reality,” Jodi says.
“I just want to empower people with the knowledge. I do believe it would just simply be a matter of time that someone else will lose someone they love and statistically it’s probably most likely going to be a child and a small child.”
Authorities are supporting the family by rolling out a campaign in regional hospitals across north Queensland.
Paediatric intensivist Dr Greg Wiseman says the amoeba causes severe inflammation, it causes brain destruction and “we have no immunity to this”.
With no proven medical cure, prevention is the key message and the Queensland Government is recommending rural properties treat their house water.
“For young toddlers around the home just make sure that the water that they’re playing and washing in is disinfected and filtered if possible and we’ll reduce the risk, but we won’t get rid of it,” says Dr Steven Donohue, director of public health in Townsville.
Unfortunately it’s advice too late for the families who’ve lost three young children.
There have been at least 300 known deaths from around the world and at least 25 in Australia. The amoeba was first identified in South Australia in the 1960s and can exist in fresh, warm water over 25 degrees.
Watch a preview of the exclusive story here:
Australian Story: Out of the Water will air on the ABC on Monday, November 9, 2015 at 8pm.
(images via Australian Story)