Hally Yust, nine, of Spring Hill, Kan., died after contracting an infection—called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis—that develops from the rare "brain-eating" Naegleria fowleri amoeba found in warm freshwater lakes and rivers. According to the Center for Disease Control, there have been fewer than 200 reported cases of the infection in the U.S. in the past five decades.
"The amoeba goes up through the nose and into the brain and once it's there, there's really nothing anybody can do. There's only been one case that actually lived through this. All the other cases have passed away," Tiffany Geiger, an investigator with the Johnson County Health Department, told WDAF.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday that Hally was only the second known case of a person contracting the infection in Kansas. The amoeba grows at higher temperatures, so the risk rises in summer, and it most commonly occurs in lakes and rivers in southern states, particularly Florida and Texas.
"You are more likely to die from drowning than you are from ever dying from this organism, it's like a one in a billion, this girl's one in a billion," Hally's father, Shon Yust, told WDAF.