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In Brief

Girl Who Survived Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection Goes Home

This picture shows an infection of the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, seen under a microscope and stained with a fluorescent antibody.
This picture shows an infection of the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, seen under a microscope and stained with a fluorescent antibody. (Image credit: CDC)

A 12-year old girl who survived an infection with a brain-eating amoeba is now well enough to go home, according to news reports.

The girl, Kali Hardig of Arkansas, is the third person in the world known to survive the rare infection, which is caused by the parasite Naegleria fowleri, and the second in the United States.

Naegleria fowleri is most commonly found in warm freshwater, such as lakes rivers and hot springs. Hardig is believed to have become infected after visiting a local water park, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The parasite typically enters the body through the nose, and from there, travels to the brain where it can eat away at brain tissue, causing a condition called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, the CDC says.

Several factors may have contributed to Hardig's survival, including early detection of her condition, and treatment with an experimental drug for breast cancer.

Hardig, who was hospitalized July 19, had to re-learn to speak, walk and eat, and will continue her rehabilitation as she goes back to school part time.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.