A 9-year-old Kansas girl died after she contracted a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in one of several lakes.
Hally "Bug" Nicole Yust of Spring Hill was an avid water skier. Sometime within the last two weeks, she became infected with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) caused by Naegleria fowleri, which is found in freshwater.
Yust died Wednesday from encephalitis.
Naegleria fowleri infection is extremely rare. Doctors said she likely became infected when water went up her nose.
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"You're more likely to die from drowning than you are ever from this organism,” her father Shon Yust told KCTV. “It's like one in a billion. This girl was a one in a billion. There's a reason that God picked her and I'm still trying to figure that out, but once I do, watch out; It's going to be great.”
"We are very saddened to learn of this unfortunate circumstance, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends during this difficult time," Robert Moser, MD, Kansas Department of Health secretary and state health officer, said in a news release. "It is important for the public to know that infections like these are extremely rare and there are precautions one can take to lower their risk - such as nose plugs."
Naegleria fowleri can be found in freshwater, even tap water, across the country. However there are only three cases of infection per year in the U.S.
“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,” Tiffany Geiger, the investigator with the Johnson County Health Department, told Fox 4 KC.
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Image screenshot: KCTV