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July 20, 2014 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Kali couldn’t hold her gaze. Her eyes rolled back into her head. She had an appointment for 3 p.m., but around noon, Traci called her husband, Joseph. “I got her in, but I don’t know if she’s going to make it that long.” This is the story of how Kali Hardig became the third known survivor of the naegleria fowleri amoeba.
posted by threeants (25 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love how buzzfeed has taken the money they're getting from those stupid listicles and is plowing it back into actual journalism.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:10 PM on July 20 [11 favorites]


Not sure if it's because I am hyper aware of this, since we visit Florida a lot, but swimming in fresh water in the summer down South, or in the midwest is a HUGE no no. That shit is scary and deadly.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:11 PM on July 20


oh god i forgot it was in tap water too

why is everything so steadfastly terrible
posted by elizardbits at 6:20 PM on July 20 [3 favorites]


leotrotsky: "I love how buzzfeed has taken the money they're getting from those stupid listicles and is plowing it back into actual journalism."

Yes, but. The clucking at panic and hysteria while inciting that panic and hysteria is a bit much. (I mean, really - literally throbbing graphics of Naegleria? and a tiny-fonted "the panic was fueled by the words used to describe the microorganism" followed by a giant-fonted all-caps "BRAIN-EATING AMOEBA"? Cheap, guys, really cheap.)
posted by gingerest at 6:31 PM on July 20 [13 favorites]


swimming in fresh water in the summer down South, or in the midwest is a HUGE no no

I think that would come as a surprise to most recreational lakes in the South or midwest. In my old stomping grounds in Texas, people are still dying of jet skis to the head.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:34 PM on July 20 [8 favorites]


Yeah, you're roughly one thousand times as likely to drown in water than get one of these parasites. Anyone worrying about it while still going swimming is doing very poor risk assessment.

This did catch my eye in the article:
Dr. Mark Heulitt, one of her doctors, later explains, “The way God designed this, there’s holes in the bottom of your skull, where all your nerves go.
Eh, what? I mean, I'm sure he's a good doctor and all... and they did save her... but, come on, really?
posted by Justinian at 6:36 PM on July 20 [23 favorites]


I can report that all recreational lakes in North and South Carolina and Georgia are full of people dying in the conventional ways: drowning, drinking and boating, and, as Lyn Never says, the ever-popular jet ski to the head.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:38 PM on July 20 [4 favorites]


My rules is when swimming in warm fresh water: never dunk head or ears, wear shoes, don't go in with open cuts. Of course these are unenforceable with young-uns.

And after swimming, shower immediately with Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap and clean any scrapes. Vibrio and Mycobacteria are pretty bad too.

And then drive home after dark sunburnt and exhausted with one eye on the smartphone. (just kidding)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:38 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


Well, considering that he's describing a major design flaw - namely that when your brain swells, it cuts off its own circulation and dies - I'm not sure that it's a particularly florid statement of faith.
posted by gingerest at 6:39 PM on July 20 [6 favorites]


Yeah, god is apparently a very crappy engineer.
posted by Justinian at 6:39 PM on July 20 [13 favorites]


Despite their exceeding rareness to the point of irrelevance to our daily lives, I do, however, generally mention these cases in freshman bio. It's a great thought exercise for students: people survive bacterial encephalitis pretty often, so why is amoebic encephalitis 99% fatal? The answer of course (contra the doctor in the article) is due to evolution. Amoeba are eukaryotes, like us, with similar cell structure to ours because we all share a much more recent common ancestor than we do with the prokaryotic bacteria. And so, unlike antibiotics killing bacteria, any drugs that kill amoebic cells are much more likely to kill our cells as well. It's the same reason fungal lung infections are so dangerous and that one drug for toenail fungus can give you liver failure.

And then I go swim in Lake Lanier because it's hot in Atlanta in the summer, and lakes are awesome, and as long as I avoid the drunken jetskiers, I'm pretty darn safe.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:46 PM on July 20 [23 favorites]




I hate lake/pond/etc swimming anyway because of the way the mud squishes between your toes so as long as there isn't anything like this in saltwater AND IF THERE IS DON'T FUCKING TELL ME i think i'll be fine
posted by elizardbits at 7:06 PM on July 20 [6 favorites]


why is everything so steadfastly terrible

It wouldn't be because we keep messing with everything, would it?
posted by sneebler at 7:13 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Mayor Rahm Emmanual of Chicago is missing a portion of a finger due to an Arby's accident that cut the finger and a dip in Lake Michigan. The world you can't see can get you pretty much anywhere anytime.

The trick is alcohol.

Soak your brain in blood that is filled with it so you don't spend all your time worrying about the invisible terrors that come out at night and have orgies on your face.
posted by srboisvert at 7:19 PM on July 20 [4 favorites]


I love how buzzfeed has taken the money they're getting from those stupid listicles and is plowing it back into actual journalism.

Maybe so, but i still completely fucking despise their house style for posting things.

It's like they tried to rip off mediums style, but couldn't resist the urge to go full angelfire circa 1999 and slap in a bunch of gigantic scare text and animated gifs.

Oh, and of course their general style of "And you wont BELIEVE what happens next!"

Buzzfeed is the fucking national inquirer of the internet.
posted by emptythought at 7:45 PM on July 20


Huh, personally I find Buzfeed's layout slightly suboptimal but I haaaaaate Medium. Their style is all HAY DO U LIKE LARGE LETTERS, U WILL HAVE TO FULLY SCROLL AFTER EVERY TWO SENTENCES THX
posted by threeants at 8:01 PM on July 20 [7 favorites]


I felt the god comment was more of a cultural statement than religious beliefs.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:23 PM on July 20 [5 favorites]


The trick is alcohol.

Hey, it worked in a The Andromeda Strain.
posted by misha at 11:28 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]



Yeah, god is apparently a very crappy engineer.


That's obvious. Running a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area should have been your first clue.
posted by stevis23 at 4:21 AM on July 21 [9 favorites]


Great story; glad it turned out well for at least the one patient. Reminded me of Jeanna Giese, the first known survivor of rabies without post-exposure vaccination. Scary disease but fortunately pretty rare. When I think of all the nasty places I swam growing up it would have to be pretty rare for me or someone I knew not have died from it.

Having said all that, this cracked me up a little:
That Saturday, the day after Kali’s hospitalization, the first shipment left Atlanta for Little Rock. “First they said, ‘It’s on its way,’” says Traci. “Then they came back in and said, ‘We’ve got bad news. Delta lost it.

I live in a town served primarily by Delta, and although they claim their name arises from their origins in the Mississippi delta, we all know it is an acronym for Don''t Expect Luggage To Arrive.
posted by TedW at 6:38 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Take it easy on God, you guys. He designed this awesome round space thing with life and everything, and then these parasites just multiplied out of control and totally fucked everything up.

And I don't mean the amoeba.
posted by Behemoth at 8:19 AM on July 21 [4 favorites]


Up there with the fungal meningitis outbreak, which was a bitch to cure for similar reasons.
posted by bad grammar at 8:53 AM on July 21


It wouldn't be because we keep messing with everything, would it?

I'm pretty confident that these eukaryotic microorganisms pre-dated human intervention.
posted by Justinian at 1:39 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and the amoebas are accidental parasites - they don't really want to be in your brain anymore than you want them there. Well, maybe they are a bit more indifferent to it. But getting into your system is mostly a dead end for them.
posted by maryr at 8:03 AM on July 22


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