(CBSNEWS) — A 12-year-old Arkansas girl likely contracted a "brain-eating" amoeba while she was playing in water park, according to health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) confirmed a case of primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a rare but often fatal type of brain infection caused by an amoeba often found in lake waters. Health officials believe the victim got the infection at Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock.
CBS affiliate KTHV in Little Rock identified the victim as Kali Harding, and said she is listed in critical condition at Arkansas Children's Hospital.
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The Naegleria fowleri amoeba, which causes the infection, is commonly found in freshwater and soil. If the amoeba enters the through the nose, the microbe can cause an infection which causes the brain tissue to swell (meningitis), eventually leading to death. This is why lake swimmers and divers are more vulnerable. You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri if you drink water that contains the microbe or if you are swimming in a properly cleaned, maintained and disinfected pool.