Girl Dies After Exposure To ‘Brain-Eating Amoeba’

By  //  July 14, 2014

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RARE, BUT ALMOST ALWAYS FATAL INFECTION

ABOVE VIDEO: FOX 4 News reports on the devastating death of a 9-year-old girl from the “brain-eating amoeba” after swimming in several different bodies of water over the last seven to 14 days.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This sad report chronicling the death of a 9-year-old girl in Kansas emphasizes the importance of vigilance surrounding the prevention of the rare and deadly brain infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is caused by exposure to the brain attacking Naegleria fowleri, an organism found naturally in freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds and hot springs, and was the focus of two SpaceCoastDaily.com reports last summer.

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Hally Yust, 9, from Spring Hill was an avid skier. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Because of its lethal nature, the possibility of PAM can be frightening, but, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have only been 31 reported infections in the U.S. in the 10 years from 2003 to 2012, despite hundreds of millions of recreational water exposures each year. By comparison, in the ten years from 1996 to 2005, there were more than 39,000 drowning deaths in the United States.

With the wide variety of popular recreational opportunities available in Florida’s freshwater, almost all of us are at risk. The CDC has compiled a very useful set of “Frequently Asked Questions” that provides an excellent overview of PAM, including tips on what you can do to minimize exposure to the amoeba, and which I highly recommend to you to better understand the risk and allay fears related to PAM.

—Dr. Jim Palermo, Editor-in-Chief

FOX 4KC.COM — An extremely rare brain-eating amoeba has killed a nine-year-old girl from Johnson County.

Hally Yust, 9, from Spring Hill was an avid skier and died two days ago on Wednesday.

The amoeba is found in fresh water. A county disease investigator tells FOX 4 that Yust had several potential exposures in fresh water in Kansas, so the actual source of infection cannot be determined.  She was taken to a hospital with meningitis-like symptoms and testing revealed the amoeba infection.

Recreational water users should assume that there is always a very low level of risk whenever swimming, diving, or waterskiing in warm freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds or hot springs, particularly in the South.

Recreational water users should assume that there is always a very low level of risk whenever swimming, diving, or waterskiing in warm freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds or hot springs, particularly in the South.

It’s called Naegleria fowleri.  It’s in lakes, rivers and hot springs.  Infection is extremely rare.  There have been fewer than 200 cases in the U.S. in more than 50 years.  There was also a death in a Wichita-area resident in 2011.

“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,” said Tiffany Geiger, the investigator with the Johnson County Health Department.

Geiger says even though the chances of getting the brain-eating amoeba are very low, you can lower the chances by wearing noseplugs when swimming, skiing or doing other fresh water activities.  The risk does increase in the summer with warmer water temperatures.

CLICK HERE for the complete story on FOXkc.com.

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