A MOTHERWELL mum is warning against the use of hot tubs after her daughter spent eight weeks in hospital with a brain infection contracted from bacteria in the water.

In 2018, Jemma’s then five-year-old daughter Amelia was found to have three brain abscesses after being rushed to University Hospital Wishaw by paramedics.

Two years on from the ordeal, Biomedical Science student Jemma has urged anyone who has recently purchased a hot tub or heated pool over the past few weeks during lockdown to remain vigilant to the dangers.

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Jemma, 26, told The Glasgow Times: “I want to raise awareness of the safety of home swimming pools, now that it’s coming to that time, by sharing what we went through.

“My parents purchased a hot tub and Amelia loved it, spending so much time in it.

"My mum was also very vigilant when cleaning it.

Glasgow Times: Amelia spent 8 weeks in hospitalAmelia spent 8 weeks in hospital

“About two weeks later Amelia developed an ear infection which absolutely floored her. We took her to the doctors and they prescribed amoxicillin. She finished the course and her symptoms subsided and she seemed herself again but had lost a lot of weight. She then started to complain of dizziness, and double vision. We took her to the doctors and she told them everything was okay, which delayed us further.”

Brain injuries are commonly mistaken for vision issues, because of pressure on the optic nerve. When Amelia began to complain of issues with her eyes and then woke up one morning with an upturned eye, Jemma took her to the opticians - 

Jemma continued: “Her upturned eye really scared me. We took her to the opticians, and were there for hours. I knew something wasn’t right because no one would tell us anything, so I did the worst thing that I could - I started Googling her symptoms.

“They referred us to Hairmyres ophthalmology department for more tests as they were concerned but, they still didn’t tell us what they were concerned about.”

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In Hairmyres, Jemma’s ordeal truly began as a doctor told her she had an abcess on her brain.

Jemma said: “I was in hysterics, an absolute trance. The world paused. 

“The CT scan results came the following day and confirmed her diagnosis. I was numb for days.

"She had three puss filled abscesses on her cerebellum which were putting pressure on her optic nerve, giving issues with her eyes.”

Glasgow Times: Amelia was rushed in for a CT scan.Amelia was rushed in for a CT scan.

Amelia was immediately transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. 

She added: “They sat us down and explained that her condition was life-threatening and that she must start IV antibiotics straight away.

"I thought she would be kept in for a week or two. I was wrong.

“The neurosurgeon explained she would be in for at least eight weeks, with weekly MRI scans to monitor her progress.

“We were told she more than likely caught a severe ear infection from the hot tub as the warm temperatures are breeding grounds for bacteria. 

“When we thought it had cleared, the amoxicillin had just masked her symptoms for a few weeks as it wasn’t strong enough to kill this strain of bacteria. In the mean time the infection spread to her brain. 

Glasgow Times: Amelia and mother, Jemma, in hospital.Amelia and mother, Jemma, in hospital.

“We spent the next 8 weeks living on the neurology ward with the most amazing staff and volunteers. When you ask Amelia about her time at the hospital, she has nothing but happy memories and asks if she can go back. She doesn’t even mention the scary times.”

Now, Jemma wants people to be extra vigilant when using hot tubs - even as far as hoping that people do not let their children use them.

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She said: “There isn’t clear guidance on buying hot tubs for your home at all. I think it should be advertised more. 

“Please, please be extra careful when treating your hot tubs or pools and make sure you do this as much as possible. 

“If we hadn’t gone to the opticians that day we could have been in a totally different situation.”

A spokesperson from The Brain Tumour charity said: 

"The Brain Tumour Charity know that so many children and young people seek eye tests as part of symptoms that may be linked to a brain tumour.

"Our HeadSmart campaign focuses on raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of a brain tumour. If you or a family member are worried, please click here for more information."