A 9-year-old Kansas girl who loved water sports has died after contracting an extremely rare brain-eating amoeba.
Fox4KC reports Hally Yust died Wednesday after contracting Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba found in fresh water sources such as lakes, rivers and hot springs. Hally was hospitalized after complaining of meningitis-like symptoms.
A county health official told Fox4KC that Hally had been in several bodies of water that could have exposed her to the infection, so it is impossible to determine where the girl contracted it. The amoeba is extremely rare, with less than 200 cases in the U.S. being reported in the past five decades.
“The amoeba goes up through the nose and into the brain and once it’s there, there’s really nothing anybody can do. There’s only been one case that actually lived through this. All the other cases have passed away,” Johnson County Health Department investigator Tiffany Geiger told Fox4KC.
“It must have been a little boring in heaven the last few weeks so God looked around the earth and he found the most interesting, dynamic, fantastic person he could,” Hally’s mother Jenny Yust told Fox4KC, “and he said, ‘Hally you gotta come be with me.’”
Hally’s parents said they do not want their daughter’s death to scare anyone off from enjoying the water, because the girl loved it so much.
“We hope you will not live in fear of this rare infection that took our daughter’s life,” the family said in a statement to Fox4KC. “Our family is very active in water sports, and we will continue to be.”
Geiger said precautionary measures like wearing noseplugs when swimming, skiing or doing other fresh water activities can help lower the risk of infection.
The Yust family has set up a scholarship in their daughter’s name to provide educational opportunities for girls who love basketball as their daughter did.
“She was smart and beautiful and our angel that we will dearly miss,” Jenny Yust told Fox4KC.