Girl Gravely Ill From Amoeba In Lake

Girl Gravely Ill From Amoeba In Lake

It's a secret killer lurking in America’s lakes—a brain-eating parasite that comes to life in summer.

Adorable 12-year-old Kali Hardig went swimming in a lake at an Arkansas water park last week when a parasite in the water entered her brain through her nose.

Now, she's fighting for her life. Her mom appeared on Good Morning America and said, “I had never even heard of it until Kali got it, and then to be told there is no cure for this amoeba, it's just heart-wrenching.”  

Only two other victims have ever survived the killer amoeba. Kali's mom is praying her child will be number three.

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Editor and author of Tell Me The Truth Doctor spoke to INSIDE EDITION about the amoeba. He said, “These parasites enter through the nose and then directly attack the brain. In a period of five days there's major brain damage and you are beyond recovery. Bad headache, fever, neck stiffness— [if] you have any of these symptoms you need to be seen by a doctor right away.”

The disease is very rare, but incredibly, Kali's the second victim at the same lake. Seven-year-old Davian Briggs from Little Rock died in the summer of 2010.

The lake is now closed. But the killer parasite, called Naegleria Fowleri lurks in lakes across America.

Her mother said, "We were hoping for a miracle."

There was no miracle for Patricia Nash. Her 16-year-old daughter Courtney, of Orlando, Florida, went swimming in the St. John's River last year. Within days she was dead.

In 2010 seven-year-old Kyle Lewis of Arlington, Texas, died a week after swimming in a lake at a state park. His parents, Julie and Jeremy Lewis, showed INSIDE EDITION's Les Trent a slide show of happy but heartbreaking memories of their son.

Jeremy said, “It is a death sentence once it's gotten. And there isn't anything anyone can do.”

There are ways to protect your kids. Experts say wear a nose clip when swimming in a lake. Don't use water slides in lakes, and avoid shallow water.

Jeremy said, “If you are in a pond, if you're in a creek, if you're in a lake, if the water is above 80 degrees, Naegeria Fowleri is out there.”