A 9-year-old girl has lost her life to the brain eating amoeba that is found in fresh water lakes, rivers and hot springs. Haley Yust contracted the rare Naegleria fowleri, which is also referred to as the brain eating amoeba, while in one of the several bodies of water she had gone swimming in this summer, according to Fox News on July 12.
Because of the various places that Haley had gone swimming, it is impossible for health officials to determine where she contracted this deadly amoeba. The brain eating amoeba enters through the nose and makes its way to the brain. Once this amoeba makes it to the brain, there’s very little that anyone can do to save the victim, reports the New York Daily News.
This rare brain eating amoeba has been documented in 200 cases over the last 50 years and only one person lived after contracting the illness. It seems that each summer a case of this rare illness pops up somewhere in the nation, mostly in kids.
Because Haley loved the water so much, Haley’s parents hope that her illness does not scare off anyone from enjoying the water. To keep the deadly amoeba from entering the body, something as simple as nose plugs can guard against this when swimming in fresh water, suggests Johnson County Health Department investigator Tiffany Geiger.
Haley and her family are very big into water sports and because death from this condition is so rare, Haley’s death will not deter the family from enjoying all the water sports they have in the past. Above you can see Haley water skiing, she loved the water and all the sports that went along with it!
This amoeba is harmless when swallowed in fresh water, it is when it enters the nose and makes its way to the brain that it becomes deadly. The symptoms often prompt doctors to test for meningitis, as headache, fever, nausea, neck stiffness and confusion are the symptoms of the brain eating amoeba, which are also present in meningitis.
Last year a four-year-old Mississippi boy died of the brain eating amoeba, as reported by CNN News back in September of 2013. The child was thought to have contracted the disease from a water slide, which was a plastic toy in the yard. He was in Louisiana visiting friends with his family when he came in contact with the deadly amoeba. Health officials took water samples from the slide for the amoeba and it came back positive.
Three separate cases were reported in 2013. Along with the four-year-old’s death, a 12-year-old boy from Florida also died from this condition. The only case to survive the brain eating amoeba was the third case from 2013. A 12-year-old girl from Arkansas, Kali Hardig survived the infection. She was the only one out of 200 cases in the last 50 years to do so.
The CDC reports the timeline of this disease:
“The first symptoms of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis appear one to seven days after infection, including headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck.”
“Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations,” the agency website says. “After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within one to 12 days.”