A nine-year-old Kansas girl is dead from a rare brain-eating amoeba that is found in warm freshwater lakes and rivers, officials say.
Hally Yust of Spring Hill, Kansas, about 30 miles southwest of Kansas City, contracted an infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, the Weather Channel and other outlets reported.. The infection develops from the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says is commonly called brain-eating amoeba.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday that Hally was only the second known case of a person contracting the infection in Kansas. The amoeba grows at higher temperatures, so the risk rises in summer, and it most commonly occurs in lakes and rivers in southern states, particularly Florida and Texas.
The amoeba is fairly common but the infection it can cause is rare, the CDC reports, with fewer than 200 reported cases in the U.S. in the past five decades.
"You are more likely to die from drowning than you are from ever dying from this organism. It's like one in a billion -- this girl's one in a billion," Shon Yust, Hally's father, told Fox4KC.
Fox News reported she was hospitalized after complaining of meningitis-like symptoms, and that health officials don't know where she got the infection. She had been swimming in several area lakes.
The infection is devastating and almost always fatal, officials said.
"The amoeba goes up through the nose and into the brain and once it's there, there's really nothing anybody can do,'' Johnson County Health Department investigator Tiffany Geiger told Fox4KC. "There's only been one case that actually lived through this.''