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Mount Pleasant father dedicates himself to amoeba awareness after daughter's death

Liza Hollingsworth Amoeba.png

The thought of jumping into a pond to cool off on a hot summer day makes one Mount Pleasant dad cringe. He lost his 10-year-old daughter seven years ago to a brain-eating amoeba. She got it after swimming in a pond with friends.

Dunn Hollingsworth can’t hold back the tears as he flips through Liza’s artwork.

“She was a little artist, just a great kid,” Hollingsworth says.

Liza Hollingsworth would have been 17 this year. She died of amoebic meningitis.

"July of 2010 Liza died. She had been swimming ... with a bunch of her little friends for a birthday party and they were all splashing around. She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Hollingsworth says.

The so-called "brain eating amoebas"survive in water, and travel into a person's body through the nose, traveling along nerves to the brain, according to Dr. Terry Dixon, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist for M.U.S.C.

Dixon says in the last 50 years there's been 60 cases in the U.S. The chances for survival are slim.

"It is very hard to treat and we've only had 3 survivors since 2013 in the United States" Dixon says.

Dixon says it's hard for people to detect. That was the case for Liza.

"It presents itself like a summer cold or the flu. I mean she said her head really hurt and her stomach really hurt," Hollingsworth says.

Dixon says initial symptoms can be fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.

"That can happen anywhere from one day to a week after exposure," Dixon says.

By then, it's too late.

Liza's memory surrounds her father. Pictures cover each wall in his office. Hollingsworth wears a bracelet that reads "Amoeba Awareness" in his daughter's honor.

"I’m happy to talk about this, because nobody ought to go through what we've gone through it's just sad," Hollingsworth says.

Dr. Nixon says if you do swim in fresh water during hot summer months, use a nose clip and don't dive in feet-first.

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