It is with a heavy hear that we share the news of 10-year-old Lily Avant passing away after battling a brain infection she contracted while swimming in the Brazos River.

Lily's story was shared around the world over the weekend as countless people prayed for her health and safety. Our partners at News 10 and Lily's family reported Monday morning that the girl passed away overnight.

Lily was diagnosed with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis after swimming in the Brazos and Lake Whitney over Labor Day weekend. The rare infection is caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which is often dubbed the "brain-eating amoeba" because it targets that part of the body.

Lily's family thanked everyone who prayed for their daughter and shared her story.

“Lily changed lives. Lily saved lives (in the physical and spiritual sense). She brought unity to a divided nation. Which, is just like her! She loved everyone she came in contact with, and we see you all felt that, via news reports or social media. She taught us so much more in her ten years than we ever taught her," Lily's family wrote in a statement.

Valley Mills and Whitney ISD's both mourned the loss of the little girl after news of her passing.

It's absolutely heartbreaking to think that this beautiful child passed away after simply enjoying a day in the water with her family and making childhood memories.

A representative with the Texas Department of State Health (TxDSH) tells News 10 the amoeba that caused Lily's illness is present in fresh water across the US, with no particular body of water presenting a greater risk of infection.

Cases of infection are reportedly rare, and there are few survivors.

The TxDSH recommends the following steps to reduce your chance of being infected:

  • Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels
  • Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, or hot springs
  • Avoid putting your head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters
  • Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm, freshwater areas
  • Use only sterile, distilled, or lukewarm previously boiled water for nasal irrigation or sinus flushes (e.g., Neti Pot usage, ritual nasal ablution, etc.)

Talk to a doctor immediately if you or a loved one come down with these symptoms after swimming:

  • A change in the sense of smell or taste
  • Fever
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Seeking treatment early can help improve the chances of someone surviving this infection.

We're blessed to have so many beautiful lakes and rivers to enjoy here in Central Texas, and it's important to have safety in mind when you visit them.

While we can't always be 100% safe, the CDC does recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Don't swim in or jump into warm freshwater lakes and rivers.
  • Hold your nose shut or use nose clips when jumping or diving into warm bodies of fresh water.
  • Avoid disturbing the sediment while swimming in shallow, warm fresh waters.

Our sincerest condolences go to Lily's family, friends, and community. May they find comfort in family, faith, and community during this trying time. If you're reading this, please keep them in your prayers.

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