MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The family of a 12-year old Ft. Myers area boy who contracted a rare and deadly infection that attacked his brain has received some great news.
“Thank you Jesus for giving us another day with Zac and another day of hope. We were told this morning that the antibiotics have defeated the infection. Tests showed negative activity from the amoeba. This is a small victory but we know the battle is not over,” Zachary Reyna’s father posted on a Facebook page set up for son (pray4number4) on Wednesday.
Zachary’s brother Brandon Villarreal posted in his Facebook page:
“Got some good news, the antibiotics killed away the amoeba infection! Just another battle won for us but we are still fighting the war…keep praying and praying! The time is coming, I feel it!!”
Reyna was infected with Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic single-celled living amoeba that is commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers. It can cause a rare brain infection called ‘primary amebic meningoencephalitis’ (PAM) that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal. He is being treated at Miami Children’s Hospital.
The Facebook page and a hashtag for him on Twitter, #pray4number4, signifies that if he survives, he will be only the fourth person to beat the amoeba.
Reyna’s father also posted that beating the amoeba was just one of the battles Zac faces.
“Extensive damage was done to his brain and we need to pray for any form of activity to come from his brain. I feel like Zac was in a slump, all ball players go through them. We all do. As his Dad and Coach I do all I can to help him get out of it by giving him extra training and making adjustments to his swing. We all go through tough times and we need to find God and prayer to get through theses slumps of life.”
Victims typically are exposed to the bug while swimming or doing water sports in warm ponds, lakes, rivers and canals during the hot summer months, mostly in the South.
Family members said Zac was infected while knee boarding with friends in a ditch near his family’s LaBelle home on August 3rd.
Bridgette Cochran, whose son was with the boy when he likely was exposed, said two other boys playing with Zachary at the time did not get sick. She said they were playing in a channel that children frequent during rainy summer months.
Experts say the amoeba gets up the nose and travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which destroys brain tissue. It’s a medical mystery why some people who swim in amoeba-containing water get the fatal nervous system condition while many others don’t.
People across the country have been rallying behind Zac including celebrities Taylor Swift, the New York Yankees, and the Saint Louis Cardinals who have sent him gifts and words of encouragement.
On Tuesday, Zac’s family had a special tweet for Swift.
“Thank you @taylorswift13 for sending Zac some goodies! We can’t wait to show him! #pray4number4 #taylorswift”