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Monday, July 27, 2015

Brain-eating Amoeba Found in Louisiana Drinking Water, DHH warns

Brain-eating amoebas confirmed in Louisiana drinking water

Late Wednesday, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) confirmed the presence of the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in the St. Bernard Parish Water System at the site of a leaking sampling station. The amoeba species was detected in two locations and is infamous for its taste for human brains.

The water system, which serves 44,000 residents in St. Bernard Parish, was tested by DHH as part of the State’s new public drinking water surveillance program. DHH notified the water system and local officials Wednesday evening. The Department asked the water system to conduct a 60-day chlorine burn to ensure that any remaining amoeba in the system are eliminated. Parish President Dave Peralta confirmed that the system would conduct the burn out of an abundance of caution.

Brain-eating Amoeba Found in Louisiana Drinking Water, DHH warns


Naegleria fowleri causes a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to bacterial meningitis.

DHH Safe Drinking Water Program staff sampled seven sites along the St. Bernard Parish Water System. Two of the seven sites tested positive for the amoeba. One positive test was at a site at the water treatment plant before the water was treated. The second positive test occurred at 948 Angela Street, which may have been contaminated by ground water due to a leak at the sampling station. Chlorine levels at the site of the positive sample did meet the 0.5 mg/l requirement. The Department will continue to consult with the water system and the CDC. The Department requested that the water system conduct a 60-day free chlorine burn in the water system. The chlorine burn will help reduce biofilm, or organic buildup, throughout the water system and will kill the amoeba. The parish has agreed to conduct this precautionary measure.

The disease is very rare. The likelihood of infections is extremely low but it is not zero. Preventive steps can be taken by Families according to CDC are:

1.  DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.
2.  DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools); walk or lower yourself in.
3.  DO NOT allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their nose. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water going up the nose.
4.  DO run bath and shower taps and hoses for five minutes before use to flush out the pipes. This is most important the first time you use the tap after the water utility raises the disinfectant level.
5.  DO keep small hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing and allowing them to dry after each use.
6.  DO use only boiled and cooled, distilled or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.
7.  DO keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection means:

Residents should continue these precautions until testing no longer confirms the presence of the amoeba in the water system. Residents will be made aware when that occurs. 





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