A 12-year-old girl from Benton, Arkansas diagnosed with parasitic meningitis has been put into a medically induced coma by doctors at the local Children’s Hospital.
Information shared with the public says that the girl started feeling ill the day after visiting a local water park. More precisely, she became feverish and began vomiting.
Kali Hardig was rushed to the local Children’s Hospital, where doctors carried out tests and determined that she was suffering from parasitic meningitis.
Shortly after the girl had been diagnosed with this potentially lethal condition, specialists working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arkansas Department of Health collected and analyzed water samples from Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, Arkansas.
It was thus revealed that the water at this park was contaminated with a parasite known as Naegleria fowleri.
Following this investigation, whose findings were announced on Friday, the Willow Springs Water Park agreed to voluntarily shut down.
The Examiner reports that this parasite is commonly found in freshwater lakes and rivers, and that it typically works its way into a person's body through the nose.
“Naegleria fowleri infects people by entering the body through the nose. This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers.”
“In very rare instances, Naegleria has been identified in water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated tap water <47°C),” the CDC writes on its official website.
Once inside the body, the parasite heads straight for the brain and wreaks havoc on the tissues it encounters.
“The Naegleria fowleri ameba causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) when it travels up the nose to the brain and destroys the brain tissue,” the CDC further details.
Most of the people who contract this parasite die due to the damage it causes to their brain, specialists explain.
Presently, doctors are not sure whether or not the 12-year-old girl will survive.