9-year-old girl dies from 'brain-eating amoeba' - WFLA News Channel 8

9-year-old girl dies from 'brain-eating amoeba'

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Courtesy KWSF Facebook Courtesy KWSF Facebook
Courtesy KWSF Facebook Courtesy KWSF Facebook
ALBANY, GA (WFLA) - A 9-year-old Kansas girl has died after an infection from a rare 'brain-eating amoeba,' according to the health department.

The Kansas Department of Health says the girl, 9-year-old Hally Lust, likely received the infection from amoeba while swimming in freshwater over Fourth of July weekend. 

The health department states the "risk of infection is extremely low" but increases during the summer when water temperatures rise and more people are in waters. 

"The infection typically occurs when the amoeba enters the body through the nose while the person is swimming underwater or diving and travels to the brain," the health department states in a news release, as reported by NBC affiliate KSHB.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you can't get infected by drinking water contaminated with Naegleria fowleri - or brain-eating amoeba - which caused the young girl's death.

From 1962 to 2013, there have been 132 cases reported in the United States, with 34 of those cases occurring from 2004 to 2013. Most cases have occurred in southern-tier states.

Hally was a water skier, with the Mokan Water Ski Club, who expressed their condolences on Facebook saying a memorial plaque will be placed at the water ski site. 

"On July 8th our family suffered a devastating loss. Hally Yust, 9 of Spring Hill, KS fell victim to a rare bacterial infection that took her life. Hally was an amazing child that had become great friends with many of the other children at Mokan Ski Club and was considered our family. Her loss is one that will be felt for years to come. However we will always remember the great joy that she gave us. Our deepest condolences go to the Yust family and all of their loved ones impacted by this shocking loss," the Facebook page states. 

The Kansas Department of Health says symptoms usually appear about five days after infection and cannot be spread from person to person or contracted from a properly maintained swimming pool.

Though the risk of infection is extremely low, the following precautions might decrease the possibility of infection:

  • Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater.
  • Avoid putting your head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters.
  • Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature.
  • Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

There is no known way to control the occurrence of Naeglaria fowleri in freshwater lakes and rivers.

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