SPRING HILL, Kan. -- Don't be afraid to enjoy the water. That's the message coming from the family of a little girl killed by a water-born, brain-eating amoeba.
Hally Yust, 9, from Spring Hill, Kan., died on Wednesday.
Hally had been in at least four bodies of freshwater in the last one to two weeks, but her family stressed in a news conference Friday that the naegleria fowleri amoeba lives in all bodies of freshwater. While the amoeba is extremely common, infections are extremely rare. However, when someone is infected by the so-called 'brain-eating' amoeba, they rarely survive.
Officials have not determined from which lake she may have contracted the infection and will likely never know.
Symptoms of the infection that penetrates the brain include headache, fever, vomiting. People are then overcome by confusion, seizures and hallucinations.
"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," said Shon Yust, Hally’s father.
“One in a billion” it's how people who knew nine-year-old Hally describe her.
"It must have been a little boring in heaven the last few weeks so God looked around the earth and he found the most interesting, dynamic, fantastic person he could and he said Hally you've gotta come be with me," said Hally’s mother, Jenny Yust.
Hally loved playing basketball, waterskiing, and fishing, and she never settled for 50 percent effort.
"Anything she did, she was going to be the best at it. She came home from school one day and said Parker I beat every single kid in the class, and I said that's great- but what about all the boys- she said, yeah, the boys as well," said Parker Yust, Hally’s older brother.
Just as Hally was fearless in so many ways, her family asks others not to fear the amoeba that killed their angel.
"Our family is very active in the water, and we will continue to be," said Shon.
And they are determined her young, but full life will not be in vain.
"She was smart and beautiful and our angel that we'll dearly miss," said Jenny.
A celebration of life will be held for Hally on Monday.
Hally's family is also starting a scholarship for female basketball players in her honor. For more information CLICK HERE.
More information regarding amoeba infections:
Deadly infections from brain-eating amoebas are fairly rare in the United States
Between 1962 and 2013, there have been 132 cases. The first and only other case in Kansas was reported in 2011.
Doctors say it takes about five days after infection for symptoms to show up.
Those symptoms include:
Doctors recommend when you swim in freshwater to:
- Keep your head above water
- Keep your nose plugged
- Avoid stirring up mud at the bottom of the lake