Foundation honors victim of amoebas

The U.S. family of the 11-year-old boy who died after contracting a brain-devouring amoeba from a Costa Rican hot spring in June has set up a foundation for combating related infections in the future.

The Jordan Smelski Foundation for Amoeba Awareness began in honor of young Jordan Smelski who died July 2 from the very rare primary amebic meningoencephalitis, according to the foundation’s Web site. This infection stems from the naegleria fowleri, which is known as the “brain-eating amoeba” and is often found in freshwater sources and hot springs in warmer climates.

Doctors initially misdiagnosed the boy’s symptoms of vomiting, headaches, and hallucinations as meningitis. Now the family is trying to spread the word of this rare disease so that it not only gets attention within the general public, but also within medical circles. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the naegleria fowleri commonly enters through the nose of someone who dips their head under a contaminated portion of warm freshwater.

Costa Rican health officials have not yet released information into which hot spring resort the Smelskis visited.

Jordan was the only son of Shelly and Steve Smelski, who live in Sanford, Florida. Donations and volunteer opportunities can be found directly on the foundation Web page at

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