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Classmates rally for Houston teen fighting brain-eating amoeba

There was an emotional show of support Wednesday for the Houston teenager who is hospitalized with a rare brain-eating amoeba, CBS Houston affiliate KHOU reports.

At an athletic event during the first week of school, students at Cypress Ridge High School observed a moment of silence for their classmate, 14-year-old Michael Riley Jr.

"I'd like you to raise your hands," said one of the coaches during the event. "I'd like you to say whatever it is in a moment of silence to your God, asking for strength for Michael."

Riley, an honors student and athlete, was to start his freshman year at the school. Doctors believe he contracted the amoeba Naegleria fowleri when he jumped into a lake at the Sam Houston National Forest on August 13. He remains in critical condition at Texas Children's Hospital.

A family representative says Michael has been going through a number of tests but is not responding well, according to the KHOU report. He's been in a medically induced coma.

How to stay safe from the brain-eating amoeba

The family says prayers, especially coming from the students, mean a lot.

"I'm here supporting my best friend that's really like my brother," said Jarrell Reynolds. "I hope it gets to the Lord to see how many people want him back in our lives."

"I really hope he gets better and I'm praying for him," said classmate Maddie Galindo.

In the crowd, donations poured into buckets for Riley's family.

"To have all these that don't even know him to come together, that's pretty amazing," said Sarah Jones, another classmate.

While Riley's condition is rare, the Naegleria fowleri amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts say it can infect people when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose. Drinking contaminated water does not cause infection.

The amoeba causes a rare disease, Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM), that attacks cells in the brain. It is almost always fatal.

From 2005 to 2014, the CDC says 35 Naegleria fowleriinfections were reported in the United States.

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