Parasitic meningitis confirmed in 12-year-old Arkansas girl

Posted By CAROLINE LEE,  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:30 PM
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The Arkansas Department of Health is investigating a case of a rare illness called parasitic meningitis.

A girl from Benton, Ark., has been stricken with the swimming illness, which can cause a fatal brain infection. The CDC has confirmed only five cases in the state between 1962 and 2012. The last case was reported in 2010.

"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.

Hardig brought her daughter to Children's Hospital last Friday, where doctors told her that 12-year-old Kali suffered parasitic meningitis. She has been put in 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.

Hardig said that the day before Kali was admitted she had gone swimming in a nearby lake. This form of meningitis is contracted by ingesting water through the nose. It occurs more commonly in warm-water lakes and ponds.

Parasitic meningitis is typically fatal. The Arkansas Department of Health has not identified in which lake the case was contracted, but the owner of Willow Springs water park in Little Rock said the health department has taken samples of its water. Water samples have been taken from other bodies of water in the area, but results have not yet been determined.

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