Parasitic Meningitis Case In Benton, Arkansas

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A 12-year-old girl from Benton, Arkansas, Kali Hardig, is currently being treated with parasitic meningitis.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "Primary amebic meningoencephalitis is a very rare form of parasitic meningitis that causes a fatal brain infection. The parasite enters the body through the nose and is caused by the microscopic ameba (a single-celled living organism) Naegleria fowleri." The CDC website also states that, "This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. The Naegleria fowleri ameba travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue." For more information you can visit

Candice Burns Hoffman with the CDC said there was also a reported case of this condition in Arkansas in 2010. The CDC has only confirmed five cases in the United States between 1962 and 2012.

"I couldn't get her fever down. She started vomiting. She'd say her head hurt really bad. She cried, and she would just look at me and her eyes would just kind of roll," said Traci Hardig, mother of the 12-year-old girl.

Hardig proceeded to bring her daughter to the Children's Hospital last Friday, where the doctors told her that Kali was suffering from parasitic meningitis. The doctors then put Kali into a medically induced coma. "They call her stable for the moment, just got to ride out all the inflammation, all the side effects that the meningitis caused," Hardig said. The CDC website states that "Several drugs are effective against Naegleria fowleri in the laboratory. However, their effectiveness is unclear since almost all infections have been fatal, even when people were treated."

The Arkansas Department of Health has not confirmed in which lake the condition was contracted, the owner of Willow Springs water park in Little Rock, Arkansas reported that the health department had taken samples of its water. The health department has taken samples of the water from other sources as well. The results from these tests have not yet been returned.