Kali Hardig fell ill this summer with a deadly brain amoeba after she contracted the parasite Naegleria fowleri at a water park.
This season, Kali Hardig was not the only person to contract the rare but nearly always fatal resultant primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. The brain-eating amoeba’s survival rate is so low, in fact, that only two people in the United States have ever recovered from the illness.
Hardig, 12, is believed to have contracted the infection in a lake at Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, where another instance of the illness cropped up in 2010.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention say that once Naegleria fowleri infections set in, little can be done. The CDC’s site explains:
“After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about five days… People should seek medical care immediately whenever they develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck and vomiting, particularly if they have been in warm freshwater recently.”
But more than five days have passed since Hardig fell in in July, and a Facebook page to which her mom Traci posts indicates that Kali is showing signs of recovery.
Traci Hardig said this week:
“Kali said ‘Hi Mama’ I was so happy that tears just started falling down my [cheeks!] Kali is doing so amazing and we are so proud [of] her! She just does something everyday that blows us away. I have such an amazing little girl and she has big things to do!”
Another post reported that remarkably, Kali is able to sit up in bed and watch television, and even walked across her hospital room:
“Kali continues to amaze her mom and dad every day. She walked across the room with a person on each side holding her arms and then back to the other side. Then she threw the basketball in the goal and swung a bat at blocks! She set up in bed and watch T.V. and really enjoyed the show! Plus she looked so pretty as always!”
Kali Hardig’s supporters have also rallied around Florida boy Zachary Reyna, who fell similarly ill and prompted a freshwater “brain-eating warning” from local health officials due to the cases this summer.