4-year-old Boy Dies of Brain Amoeba in Louisiana
A 4-year-old boy has passed away in Louisiana after playing on a water slide in St. Bernard Parish. He
was infected with a brain amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri, which was present in the water because
of low chlorine levels. 99% of those infected die from the amoeba. A 12-year-old girl in Arkansas
survived the infection last month after taking an experimental drug.
Naegleria fowleri is a brain-eating amoeba, which causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. Only
one percent of people infected with it survive. The amoeba is usually found in warm, fresh water and
hot springs; cases of infection from it are most common in the Southeastern region of the United States.
Symptoms usually appear within one week of infection and include fever, headache, nausea, stiff neck
and vomiting. It progresses quickly and causes lack of attention, confusion, seizures, lack of balance
and hallucinations. Within one to 12 days, the patient will die.
There is no cure, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an experimental drug
for treating the amoeba that is sometimes used in extreme cases. This drug was used in 12-year-old
Kali Hardig's case and she survived. It was also used for 12-year-old Zachary Reyna in Florida who
passed away in August after being infected with the amoeba.
A four-year-old boy from Mississippi lost his life in August in St. Bernard Parish. The area he was
playing in tested positive for Naegleria fowleri. The CDC also found it in the water in the parish. The
water lines in the parish are being flushed with chlorine, according to Assistant Health Secretary J.T.
Lane. The water can still be safely used for cooking and drinking, as long as individuals are careful not
to let the water get into the nose. If the amoeba enters the nose, it can travel to the brain.
To avoid being infected, it is recommended that you do not swim in fresh water that is both warm and
at a low level. While swimming, do not move sediment in warm, fresh bodies of water while swimming
or wading in shallow areas. You can also prevent the amoeba from entering your nose by using nose
clips or holding your nose closed while swimming. Also, be careful to always use sterilized or distilled
water while using an neti pot or anything that flushes your sinuses.
Kali Hardig's mother Traci Hardig took her to the hospital after she experienced symptoms of the
infection after swimming at Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. She spent 22 days in
the Intensive Care Unit and a total of seven weeks in the hospital. Kali was put on a breathing tube, she
was unresponsive, she was given antibiotics, anti-fungal medication and the experimental drug from
the CDC. To preserve brain tissue, doctors kept her body temperature at 93 degrees.
Traci said, “If you believe that there's something more wrong with your daughter or your son than a
simple virus or stomach flu, stay in there, hang in there. Talk to the doctor...and reassure them that this
is not a normal illness.” Kali is one of only two patients in the past fifty years who have survived the
infection out of the 128 cases on file with the CDC.