JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — An extremely rare brain-eating amoeba claimed the life of a nine-year-old girl from Kansas, according to WDAF.
Hally reportedly had been swimming in several area lakes. She contracted the amoeba, 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.
Naegleria fowleri is commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” or “brain-eating ameba” and is a free-living amoeba found in freshwater.
Officials have not determined exactly where the the girl contracted the infection.
“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.
Symptoms usually appear five days after infection. They include headache, fever, nausea, stiff neck and confusion.
A scholarship fund has been set up in Hally’s honor, and those who wish to contribute are asked to send donations to:
The Hally “Bug” Yust K-State Women’s Basketball Scholarship, Ahearn Fund, 1800 College Ave., Suite 138, Manhattan, Kansas 66502
The Yust family hopes the scholarship will provide educational opportunities for young women who love basketball as much as their daughter did. Hally’s obituary says her dream was to be a college basketball player.