By Staff Reporter, Jul 31, 2013 04:06 PM EDT
(PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook)
A 12-year-old girl from Arkansas is currently in critical condition, as she is battling a rare and deadly brain-eating parasite. Doctors are reportedly surprised by how the young girl, Kali Hardig, contracted the brain eating amoeba. Turns out, Kali Harding got the brain eating amoeba from a seemingly harmless place: a water park.
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Kali Harding apparently received the parasitic meningitis when she went for a swim in a lake at Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, Ark. and was taken to the hospital after her mother noticed surprising symptoms including exhaustion and a high fever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has confirmed that Kali Harding's case is primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). In order to treat Kali Harding, doctors at Arkansas Children's Hospital have induced a coma and are keeping her in the coma to stabilize her.
"This is a prayer and/or message board for Kali," says the Facebook page created by Kali Harding's family. "She is a 12 year old that is fighting parasitic meningitis (PAM). This is a very rare form of meningitis only a 128 people have been diagnosed with this in the U.S. from 1962 to 2012."
Surprised that an amoeba would be in a water park? You shouldn't be! Amoeba, which is officially a parasite called Naegleria fowleri amoeba, loves warm water up to 115 degrees F like those found in lakes, rivers and hot springs. That said, the brain eating amoeba is rare -- only 31 people have contracted the parasite in the past ten years -- but has thus far resulted in fatalities. The only two survival cases, according to the CDC, have been seen in California and Mexico.
"The child has a grave prognosis, I'm afraid," said Dr. William Schaffner with the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "The amoeba then finds itself way back in our noses and then can work its way into our central nervous system, around our brains, and once it's there it just causes destruction."
Willow Springs Water Park, who has seen two cases like this since 2010, has shut down as of July 25.
"Though the odds of contracting Naegleria are extremely low, they are just not good enough to allow our friends or family to swim," said David and Lou Ann Ratliff, owners of Willow Springs, in a statement. "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."
Fortunately, according to Kali Harding's Facebook page, there seems to be promising news in her treatment for the brain eating amoeba.
"The Doctors want to see what Kali's body will do on its own," writes her family. "So, they are turning off the Artic Sun machine that has been regulating her body temperature and will also be reducing her sedation. Oh...and I saved the best for last Kali opened her eyes and looked at her momma this morning!!!!! Please keep Kali and her family in your prayers today and praise God for all his Glory and for yet another miracle."
Learn more about the brain eating amoeba case here: