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Girl, 12, Battles Symptoms of Rare Meningitis, Mom Speaks

Girl is getting care at Arkansas Children's Hospital.
LITTLE ROCK, AR--  A 12 year-old girl fights a possible case of parasitic meningitis.

Traci Hardig, the girl's mother, is praying a medical miracle.

"I am a determined mom that I'm going to get to take her home with me," said Hardig.

She says her 12-year-old daughter, Kali, went swimming recently, but quickly started getting sick shortly after.

"I kinda brushed it off that she was really tired. We let her go to sleep. When she didn't wake up the next day, I knew that wasn't Kali,"said Hardig.

So Arkansas Children's Hospital is where Hardig took her daughter for emergency treatment.

Hardig says the doctor told her Kali has symptoms of parasitic meningitis.

"He says it is a very fast moving disease. Normally, if it moves as fast as it could, she could be gone by the weekend," said Hardig.

Kali made it through the weekend, but right now she is in a medically induced coma.

The Centers for Disease Control says with parasitic meningitis, a parasite enters the body through the nose, mainly happening when a person goes swimming in warm freshwater places.

The sickness travels to the brain, where it destroys brain tissue.

"If your child has been swimming anywhere this summer and they start complaining about their head hurting and running a fever or just not acting normal, go to the doctor," said Hardig.

Health department leaders say the illness is so rare, only 2 people have survived in the United States. 

"I am praying Kali is going to be the 3rd one to beat this. I want her to be number 3," said Kali.

Health department leaders could only confirm they are investigating a possible case. They haven't shut down any bodies of water or pools as a result.

The health department says symptoms of parasitic meningitis include fever, headache, vomiting and stiff neck.

If you or child experiences one or more of these symptoms, go to the doctor immediately.

The centers for disease control says to prevent the illness avoid warm freshwater, like lakes or rivers, during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.

Also hold the nose shut or use nose clips when swimming. Plus, avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment in shallow areas.

Health department leaders say the illness is so rare and serious, only five Arkansans have been diagnosed in the last 40 years. All five of them died.
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