12-Year-Old Girl Fighting For Life After Contracting Deadly Amoe - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

12-Year-Old Girl Fighting For Life After Contracting Deadly Amoeba From Lake Water

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Little Rock, AR -

A perfectly healthy 12-year-old went for a summer swim, but now she's in the intensive care unit of an Arkansas hospital with a disease that kills 99 percent of people who contract it.

Kali Hardig got violently ill days after playing at a water park in a lake near Little Rock. Doctors diagnosed her with a rare meningitis caused by a parasite...an amoeba that thrives in hot, stagnant fresh water.

"I've never even heard about it until Kali got it and then for me, a mom, or a dad to be told that there's no cure for this amoeba is just heart wrenching," says Kali's mother, Traci Hardig.

There have only been 50 cases of this disease reported in the last ten years in the U.S., but Kali is now the second at that one lake believed to be the source for her infection. Three years ago, a 7-year-old boy died after swimming here. The owners have now shut it down for the summer and maybe forever.

"It's hard for us to even think about the possibility of a child even getting sick out here," says David Ratliff, who owns Willow Springs Water Park.

Scientists say only two americans have ever survived exposure to this amoeba. Kali's mom is praying she will be the third, "we pray she will be number 3."

"She's been incredibly strong..." says Kali's doctor.

Kali's mother is also hoping to raise awareness. There's only one way to get this disease: to ingest contaminated water through the nose. So, the best way to prevent it is to make your kids wear nose plugs or hold their nose when they go underwater. It's a simple tip from a mother whose daughter is fighting for her life.

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