Published July 29, 2013
A 12-year-old Arkansas girl has contracted parasitic meningitis, a rare and deadly disease caused by a brain-eating amoeba, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Public Health.
This is the first known case of parasitic meningitis in years, according to Medical Daily. It is caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri and is typically found in freshwater or soil. It enters the human body through the nose, where it then moves to the brain, typically causing death.
The Christian Post reported that Kali Hardig was rushed to the hospital by her mother, Traci Hardig, a day after going swimming in a local lake.
"I couldn't get her fever down. She started vomiting," Hardig told the Christian Post. "She'd say her head hurt really bad. She cried, and she would just look at me and her eyes would just kind of roll."
Doctors put Kali into a coma, in order to stabilize her condition.
The Arkansas Department of Health has closed down Willow Springs Water Park in Arkansas, where it is believed that Kali contracted the disease, according to Medical Daily. A case of parasitic meningitis in 2010 was thought to be connected to the same park.
The park’s owners, David and Lou Ann Ratliff, said in a statement:
“We[...] have received new information regarding Naegleria fowleri, and have elected to close the park as of July 25 at the request of the Arkansas Department of Health. Though the odds of contracting Naegleria are extremely low, they are just not good enough to allow our friends or family to swim. For the thousands of people who love Willow Springs, we will be taking this time to determine the feasibility of installing a solid bottom to the lake. We will not ever reopen as a sand bottom lake. We covet your prayers and our Willow Springs family will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.”