Whitewater center suspends activities after amoeba detected


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. National Whitewater Center announced Friday that it has temporarily suspended its operations after water samples turned up the amoeba believed to have caused the death of an Ohio teenager.

A statement released by the center Friday says the decision was made after talks with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials. The statement says that while whitewater activities are suspended, the center will remain open for all other operations and activities. A center spokesman didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

“We were having discussions about what the next steps should be, and at that point we decided we should talk to the whitewater center,” Mecklenburg County Health Director Marcus Plescia said at a news conference. “When we shared the information we had and some of the concerns we had, they made the decision that that’s what they thought they should do.”

Lauren Seitz of Westerville, Ohio, was visiting North Carolina with her church group. The 18-year-old’s only known underwater exposure was thought to be when her raft overturned at the whitewater center. Seitz died last Sunday.

Plescia said the CDC did testing at the center Wednesday. He said the tests were preliminary and that the actual cultures won’t be available for about a week. He estimated that 11 samples were taken from various parts of the whitewater portion of the center as well as in the internal workings, and that the majority of them turned up the amoeba.

Plescia said it’s not realistic to expect to completely rid the center of the amoeba, but instead to try to ensure that if there are any concentrations, they are very low.

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