Playing in the backyard with the hose may have been the reason this family lost their precious sons life. The heart broken parents want to share their story to prevent it happening again. Because it could happen again!
Jodi and Laine Keough, live on a cattle station near Townsville, north-west Queensland. They believed raising their kids on the land was a privilege and could never imagine bringing them up anywhere else. They thought they would be safe.
Sadly they lost their one-year-old son Cash after discovering he suffered from Naegleria fowleri – a horrific illness that causes a devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
Learning of two other children infected by the same deadly parasite just 100m from their family home, the Keoughs’ spoke to ABC’s Australian Story to prevent any further loss to the community.
‘It’s rare but it’s deadly and it’s something that rural Australia needs to be aware of,’ said Dr Robert Norton, clinical microbiologist.
Jodi Keough holds back tears as she remembers giving her children hoses to play with in the yard on a hot day.
‘It always stands out in my mind because I insisted, I insisted all three of my kids have a hose each to play with, thinking I was being a good mum but I was actually putting my kids in some form of danger,’ Ms Keough said.
Suffering from numerous seizures, doctors began treating the toddler for meningitis.
It wasn’t until they removed water from the brain they were able to diagnose his condition as Naegleria fowleri.
The parasite gets into the brain through our nose usually carried by a form of pressurised water.
‘It causes severe inflammation, it causes brain destruction and we have no immunity to this,’ said Dr Greg Wiseman, an expert in paediactric intensive care.
After Cash fell into a coma and his brain function ceasing to exist, Dr Wiseman was forced to tell the young child’s parents their beloved boy would not survive.
Ms Keough recalled the horrific day.
‘I don’t want to live this day again, it does fill you with dread that this can happen again,’ she told Australian Story.
‘How did I grow up on the land and not know about this? I do feel that it is my responsibility, I do feel like it’s up to me to prevent our nightmare becoming someone else’s reality.
‘I just want to empower people with the knowledge. I do believe it would just simply be a matter of time that someone else will lose someone they love and statistically it’s probably most likely going to be a child and a small child.’
‘For young toddlers around the home just make sure that the water that they’re playing and washing in is disinfected and filtered if possible and we’ll reduce the risk, but we won’t get rid of it,’ said Dr Steven Donohue, Director Public Health in Townsville.
My heart breaks for this family. I can not begin to imagine how they must feel.
Share your thoughts for them below.