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Girl Contracts Brain-Eating Parasite at Water Park

A day at the water park turned into a nightmare for one family after a child caught a brain-eating parasite. According to, a 12-year-old girl displayed symptoms of parasitic meningitis after swimming at Willow Springs Water Park in Arkansas, which has now been shut down. Doctors say the infection is rare, but almost always deadly.

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Parasitic meningitis is caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri and is typically found in freshwater or soil, reports. It enters the body through the nose and then attacks the brain. Early symptoms include headache, vomiting and fever. It can quickly lead to seizures and hallucinations.

Dr. William Schaffner, the chair of the Department of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt University, said that people usually contract it after swimming in lakes and ponds because that’s where the amoeba lives. If you plan on jumping into such waters, the doctor recommended simply holding your nose.

He said the amoeba can flourish anywhere in the United States, but more commonly in the South where it’s warmer. 

For all the latest medical news and discussion, check out Sunday Housecall, Sunday at 10:30a ET with Drs. David Samadi and Marc Siegel!

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