A 9-year-old Kansas girl has died from a brain-eating amoeba, report deeply saddened health officials. Hally “Bug” Nicole Yust past away on Wednesday after swimming in various bodies of water over the last two weeks.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Hally died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis caused by Naegleria fowleri.
Commonly referred to as a brain-eating amoeba, the amoeba dwells in freshwater and likely reached Hally’s brain after lake water entered her nose. After reaching the brain, it caused encephalitis, which ate away at the brain tissue.
“Hally Yust passed away on Wednesday after an amoeba, known to inhabit lakes in this area, made its way into her body,” stated KCTV.
The death left the 9-year-old’s family devastated. Hally loved water skiing, water sports, swimming, and just about anything water related.
“Anything she did, she did it to the fullest,” said Parker, her older brother. “She lived life big.”
Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is extremely rare, with only 132 reported cases in the US from 1962 to 2013. Hally swam in four different bodies of water in Kansas, and authorities are not yet sure which one gave her the infection. Risk of infection increases in the summer, as more people are swimming and going underwater.
“You’re more likely to die from drowning than you are ever from this organism. It’s like one in a billion. This girl was a one in a billion. There’s a reason that God picked her and I’m still trying to figure that out, but once I do, watch out; It’s going to be great,” said Shon Yust, Hally’s father.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said that the CDC will be doing additional studies on Hally’s brain to learn more about the amoeba that caused her death.