CDC confirms rare water parasite case in Arkansas - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

CDC confirms rare water parasite case in Arkansas

(WMC-TV) - A 12-year-old girl is under close observation at Arkansas Children's Hospital after encountering a rare parasite that can lead to death.

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed that Kali Hardig is recovering from amoebic meningo-encephalitis, a rare brain-eating parasite found in warm, freshwater areas.

Hardig's case is a warning for anyone who loves to spend time on rivers, lakes, or streams.

"This infection is one of the most severe infections that we know of. Ninety-nine percent of people who get it, die," said Dr. Dirk Haselow, Arkansas Department of Health.

It is extremely rare. The chance of getting amoeba meningo-encephalitis is one in 32 million. Just 150 cases have been confirmed in the United States, five of those were in Arkansas ... two of them since 2010. Those two cases came from Willow Springs, a freshwater park in Little Rock.

"Initially, people will feel malaise, fever. They might develop a stiff neck and light sensitivity," said Dr. Haselow.

Doctors say the amoeba enters the body through the nose and reaches the brain. The best way to avoid it?

"Don't swim when the water is over 85 degrees or one that's particularly low water levels, try to avoid activities that would push water up the nose even use nose clips," suggested Dr. Haselow.

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