Family fights to raise awareness about brain-eating amoeba

By Loren Korn - Reporter

It's been two years since the death of 11-year-old Jordan Smelski.

"What we thought was going to be an amazing vacation took the life of our son," said Michelle Smelski.

In July, 2014, the family was swimming at their hotel pool in Costa Rica.

"He went down a man-made water slide, probably on and off for about four hours and the water jetted up his nose," said Smelksi.

Jordan suffered flu-like symptoms including severe headaches and hallucinations. The family rushed back home, where doctors thought it was a viral meningitis.

"They basically put him in a coma at that time and he never did regain consciousness," said Smelski.

But later learned, it was a brain-eating amoeba that is usually found in fresh warm to hot water.

"We were swimming in pools. Unfortunately, those pools were filled with hot springs water," she said.

Since then, it's been the Smelski's mission to educate parents and to get possibly life saving medicine into hospitals.

"Our goal was to get to where they can identify it early enough and give a drug that treats it and kills the amoeba quick enough," said Steve Smelski.

Through several events, seminars and their foundation, The Jordan Smelski Foundation for Amoeba Awareness, the family raised more than $80,000 to help with research and education.

"If we can help somebody else not have to go through what we have gone through, that would be a great thing," said Steve Smelski.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there have been 138 confirmed cases since 2015.

The Smelski's are holding their second annual PAM summit where health care professionals will focus on amoebas and how to treat the disease. It'll be held on Sept. 9 at Florida Hospital.

To learn more about the Smelski's foundation and the summit, log onto http://www.jordansmelskifoundation.org/

Copyright 2016 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.