TIME Infectious Disease

Girl, 9, Killed by Brain-Eating Parasite in Water

Kansas and Florida officials issue health warnings about swimming in fresh water

Kansas health and environment officials have issued a health warning after a 9-year-old girl died from a brain-eating amoeba that lives in fresh water.

Hally Yust is reported to have been a regular water-skier who frequently swam in freshwater areas. She died last week after encountering the parasite Naegleria fowleri which is found in warm, still water.

Florida officials have provided similar warnings following Yust’s death. Last summer Florida resident Zachary Reyna, 12, died after he picked up the parasite while playing in a ditch near his home.

The Department of Health and Environment in Kansas said that it’s not clear where Yust, a resident of Johnson County, contracted the parasite. This is the second such case in Kansas.

“We are very saddened to learn of this unfortunate circumstance, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends during this difficult time,” said Robert Moser, Department Secretary and State Health Officer.

He added: “It is important for the public to know that infections like these are extremely rare and there are precautions one can take to lower their risk – such as nose plugs.”

From 1962 to 2013 there have been 132 similar cases reported in the U.S. The infection usually happens when the amoeba enters a person’s nose whilst they’re underwater and travels to the brain. Symptoms usually appear five days after exposure.

Officials recommend keeping your head above water when swimming in warm freshwater, wearing nose clips or avoiding freshwater activities altogether.

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