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Ark. girl fighting rare brain infection can speak

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A 12-year-old Arkansas girl who has been battling a rare and often-fatal infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba is now able to say a few words.

Kali Hardig was diagnosed last month with an infection caused by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri.

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There were 128 such infections reported in the United States between 1962 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before Kali, doctors could identify only one known survivor in the United States and another in Mexico.

‘‘She’s not speaking normal, but she is doing wonderful trying to pronounce stuff,’’ Kali’s mother, Traci Hardig, said Wednesday. ‘‘She can say yes and no.’’

Officials believe Kali got sick after a trip to a now closed Arkansas water park that has a sandy-bottomed lake.

Naegleria fowleri often is found in warm bodies of fresh water, such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs. The amoeba enters the body through the nose as people are swimming or diving. It can then travel to the brain, causing a devastating infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.

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