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Arkansas Girl Fighting Brain-Eating Amoeba Can Walk, Talk

posted 24 Aug 2013, 03:34 by Mpelembe   [ updated 24 Aug 2013, 03:35 ]

USA (Next Media) -  A 12-year-old Arkansas girl who was diagnosed last month with an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba, which is nearly always fatal, can now walk and talk.

Kali Hardig contracted the Naegleria fowleri parasite while swimming at a park in south Little Rock,Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She was admitted to Arkansas Children's Hospital on July 19 with a high fever and vomiting. Doctors cooled her body to prevent brain swelling and treated her aggressively with two antifungal drugs known to have helped two previous PAM survivors and an experimental drug called miltefosine.

Hardig’s mother said her daughter is not speaking normally but can say “yes” and “no” and “Hi mama,” “daddy” and “nanny.”

In a Facebook post on August 20 her family said: “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!”

Doctors attribute Hardig’s survival to early detection and the experimental drug, though a boy recently treated for PAM with the same drug did not survive.

The single-celled Naegleria fowleri parasite is found in warm, fresh water. It causes a type of meningitis known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM. Infections are rare but almost always fatal. Some 128 people in the United States have been infected with the parasite between 1962 and 2012, with only two having survived before Hardig, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This animation explains how Naegleria fowler infects the brain.

SOURCES: Live Science, CBS News, US News