A rare illness called "parasitic meningitis" is being investigated by the Arkansas Department of Health after a girl from Benton, Ark was confirmed as being stricken down with the swimming illness.
Parasitic Meningitis is a potentially very serious illness, and can lead to fatal brain infection and death. It is extremely rare, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that they have only heard of five confirmed cases in Arkansas in the last 50 year period between 1962 and 2012. The last known case of Parasitic Meningitis in the state was reported in 2010.
Mother of the 12 year old girl, Traci Hardig has said, "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."
Hardig rushed her daughter to the Children's Hospital last Friday, and after tests doctors were able to confirm that it was a case of parasitic meningitis. Medical experts determined that it was best to put the young girl into a medically induced coma to stabilize her condition.
"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.
The mother has said that her daughter Kali had gone swimming in a nearby lake the day before she was admitted to hospital. It is believed that she would have been infected by the meningitis illness through ingesting water via her nose.
Parasitic meningitis is more common in warm water lakes and ponds, and if not treated quickly can see patients quickly deteriorate and it could potentially be fatal.
The Arkansas Department of Health has not announced which lake the recent case was contracted from, but the owner of Willow Springs water park in Little Rock said the health department has taken samples of its water.
It is believed that authorities have also taken water samples from various other lakes in the region, and are conducting tests to confirm where the illness came from, before announcing anything publicly that could cause panic.
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