Brain-Eating Amoeba Victim Gives Doctors Thumbs Up

Kali Hardig is recovering from infection in Arkansas
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2013 6:16 PM CDT
Girl With Brain-Eating Amoeba Gives Thumbs Up in Hospital
In this photo provided by the Hardig family Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, Ark., Kali Hardig, 12, poses in an undated family photo.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

An Arkansas girl infected with a brain-eating amoeba is getting better and may be the third person ever to survive the experience, NBC News reports. Kali Hardig, 12, was infected with the amoeba after swimming in a Little Rock, Ark., lake last month. Luckily, her mother saw she was badly ill and rushed her to a hospital. "That gave us a leg up," said a doctor at Arkansas Children's. "We were able to get started on the right medicines early. Even six to 12 hours later and we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation."

Doctors often struggle to diagnose the deadly Naegleria fowleri amoeba—it's very rare (only 130 reported cases since 1962), it strikes about a week after contact with water, and it looks like a cold or flu (but by then is already feeding on brain cells). Doctors are optimistic with Kali because she's semi-conscious and reacts to questions by nodding or giving a thumbs up. But in Miami, a 12-year-old boy with Naegleria is still struggling for survival: "Zac is still fighting," according to a Facebook page set up by his family. "Doctors are saying things have not changed." (More Naegleria fowleri stories.)

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