A 9-year-old Kansas girl died from an extremely rare “brain-eating amoeba,” but health officials aren’t sure where she was infected.
Hally “Bug” Yust died Wednesday, and officials from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed that one person in Johnson County died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) caused by Naegleria fowleri.
KCTV-TV reported that laboratory tests found the bacteria in a specimen from Hally’s body, and additional tests by the Centers for Disease Control are pending.
The bacteria are found in freshwater, but authorities are still trying to determine the source of the Spring Hill girl’s infection.
Hally had been swimming or water skiing in several area lakes in the two weeks prior to her death, and officials say it’s likely the bacteria entered her body when lake water went up her nose.
“You’re more likely to die from drowning than you are ever from this organism,” said her father, Shon Yust. “It’s like one in a billion. This girl was a one in a billion. There’s a reason that God picked her, and I’m still trying to figure that out, but once I do, watch out — it’s going to be great.”
One other case of PAM caused by Naegleria fowleri was reported in 2011 in Kansas.
The bacteria can be found around the world, but infections causing PAM are extremely rare.
Just 132 U.S. cases have been reported between 1962 and 2013, with 34 of those cases since 2004.
Watch this video report posted online by KCTV-TV: