Health officials have confirmed that a young girl from Spring Hill, Kansas died on Friday after contracting a rare illness brought on by a brain-eating amoeba.
Hally Yust, also known as “Bug” by her friends, came into contact with the brain-eating amoeba after visiting at least four different bodies of water in the last couple of weeks.
The brain-eating amoeba, formally known as Naegleria fowleri, is a protist that normally resides in warm bodies of fresh water including ponds, lakes, hot springs, and rivers. This brain-eating amoeba can cause an infection of the central nervous system called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. The first onset of symptoms includes fever, nausea, severe headaches, and vomiting. As the illness progresses, victims of the brain-eating amoeba may suffer from seizures, hallucinations, and comas. The fatality rate of such an infection is greater than 95 percent.
The brain-eating amoeba enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain along the olfactory nerve. Since the disease progresses so rapidly, it is near impossible to diagnose in time.
In an interview with Fox4KC, Tiffany Geiger, a health department investigator, says, “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,”
Because Hally swam in four different bodies of water in the past weeks, it is impossible to tell which of the four bodies of water the brain-eating amoeba came from. Despite such a sudden and frightening death, Hally’s family assures others that there is no need to fear the brain-eating amoeba.
“We hope you will not live in fear of this rare infection that took our daughter’s life,” says Hally’s family “Our family is very active in water sports, and we will continue to be.”
Geiger cautions other water sports enthusiasts to take special precautions when playing in fresh bodies of water. Wearing nose plugs when swimming or water skiing can help prevent the brain-eating amoeba from entering your body.
Although the family is in much grief, they are trying to stay positive.
“It must have been a little boring in heaven the last few weeks so God looked around the earth and he found the most interesting, dynamic, fantastic person he could,” Hally’s mother says, “and he said, ‘Hally you gotta come be with me.'”
In honor of Hally, the Yust family has set up a scholarship for girls who love basketball the way Hally did.
[Image via Fox4KC]