The 12-year-old Kali Hardig of Arkansas is now the third survivor of the rare but nearly always fatal infection caused by the brain-eating parasite Naegleria fowleri. Kali was brought into the Arkansas Children’s Hospital on July 19 with a fever, not long after she went swimming at the Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock. Doctors diagnosed her with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a rare form of meningitis that has only produced 130 cases in the U.S. in the past 50 years, caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba living in warm freshwater entering the body through the nose and travelling into the brain, where it starts consuming the brain, the victims’ fatality rate estimated at 98%.
The early detection plus experimental treatment might have saved her, where doctors put on a cocktail of medication such as antifungal drugs that had worked on the other two survivors in 1978 and 2003, and cooled down her body as when treating traumatic brain injury, hoping to minimize the damage occurring in the brain. She has been in a respirator for weeks, but is now able to sit up on her own, write some words and even throw and catch a ball, according to her family. You can follow her progression and show support here on Facebook.