July 30th, 2013
02:09 PM ET

Brain-Eating Parasite Leaves 12-year-old in Critical Condition

A 12-year-old girl is fighting for her life after going for an innocent swim at a water park.

“Kali Hardig went swimming in this lake at a water park in Little Rock, Arkansas and came down with parasitic meningitis, a rare infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba,” reports CNN’s Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

“This infection has struck only 31 other people in the past ten years. And the Centers for Disease Control says all were fatal.”

Infectious disease expert Willaim Schaffner says, “the child has a grave prognosis I'm afraid.”

“Kali Hardig's family is asking for prayers,” Cohen says.

“On their Facebook page they write...’she still has a long fight ahead.’”

The amoeba, a parasite called naegleria, loves warm water, like lakes, rivers, and hot springs.  While it’s highly unusual, Cohen says there is one thing people can do to prevent it when going into such waters.

“Hold your nose when you go under water particularly when you jump or dive into the water,” Cohen says. “Hold your nose or use a nose clip.”

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