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7 Aug, 2016 19:02

11-yo South Carolina girl dies from brain-eating amoeba

11-yo South Carolina girl dies from brain-eating amoeba

An 11-year-old girl from South Carolina has died from an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba, which was contracted after swimming in a local river.

Hannah Collins, from Beaufort, died on Friday after contracting the rare infection which destroys brain tissue and has a 97 percent fatality rate.

The young girl is thought to have been exposed to the Naegleria fowleri organism following a swim in Charleston County's Edisto River on July 24, reported the Beaufort Gazette.

Hannah's mother, Elizabeth Crockett, posted a message to a Facebook page dedicated to the young girl following her daughter’s passing.

“My baby girl will always be with me and I will try to find comfort in the fact I will one day be united with her in her new home, Heaven,” Crockett wrote.

The brain-eating amoeba, which is found in warm freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers, has also been blamed for the death of an 18-year-old in North Carolina in June.

It is very rare for such an infection to be contracted and usually occurs when people go swimming or diving and some of the contaminated water goes up their nose. From there, the organism then travels to the brain where it can cause irreparable damage, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

"You cannot be infected by merely drinking water containing the amoeba," said South Carolina state epidemiologist Linda Bell.