Brain-eating amoeba confirmed in BSR Cable Park

BSR Cable Park (pictured) is closed until further notice after a man died due to an infection that he may have contracted at the park. Lariat file photo.

By Lizzie Thomas | Staff Writer

The brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, was found in the areas of BSR Cable Park and Surf Resort, but in none of the main attractions.

According to a public health statement released by the city of Waco, the results of tests conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District (WMCPHD) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) “found evidence of Naegleria fowleri, a free-living amoeba (single celled organism) that causes Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, a rare and devastating brain infection with an over 97% fatality rate at the BSR Cable Park and Surf Resort (BSR).”

Fabrizio “Fab” Stabile, a New Jersey resident, died from this disease on Sept. 21 after visiting the park.

The report says N. fowleri was identified in the Cable Park, but not specifically found in the Surf Resort, Lazy Rive or the Royal Flush on the day of sampling. However, other areas had conditions that were favorable to the organism, such as the presence of fecal indicator organisms, high turbidity, low free chlorine levels, and other ameba that occur along with N. fowleri. The park had complied with CDC guidelines, but the lethal amoeba thrives in warm fresh water.

Stuart Parsons, the owner of BSR Cable Park and Surf Resort, said the news coverage of the finding has been difficult, but the park is doing everything possible to ensure their customers’ safety.

“How do we handle the world-wide news? It’s not a lot of fun,” Parsons said. “We just built the place and are trying to make sure that people have fun and are safe. This has been challenging for us but we’re hitting it head-on. We’re putting in a state-of-the-art filtration system where we’ve got zero chance of this ever happening. We’re investing a lot in making sure it doesn’t happen at BSR.”

Parsons said he has supported Baylor in the past and Baylor is supporting them.

“My whole family went to Baylor and supports Baylor. We advertise at Baylor at the football stadium and we didn’t drop our advertising when everybody else did with the Art Briles scandal and all that stuff. We’re from Waco and we support Waco … and Baylor’s supported us,” Parsons said.

Isaiah Scott, a junior from Milpitas, Calif., attended the park spontaneously in July and said he was surprised by the occurrence.

“I wouldn’t have expected such a lethal organism to be so close to home — at least to Baylor,” Scott said. “Obviously, their attendance and business is going to take a hit. Also, with the massive media coverage it’s going to be tough to preserve a strong image. I’m not sure of the long-term impacts of it, though. I’m not sure how exactly they’ll go about killing the amoeba.”

BSR Cable Park said in a statement on their website — where they emphasize the fact that the main attractions are clear — that they are determined to go the extra mile and their hearts and prayers are with Stabile’s family.