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Brain Eating Amoeba Found in Louisiana Drinking Water
- Updated: August 30, 2014
Confirmation of a brain-eating amoeba identified in Louisiana drinking water has provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This discovery includes drinking water in the Mount Airy, Garyville, and Reserve communities.
According to CDC officials, water provided for approximately 12,500 residents coming from St. John the Baptist Parish’s Water District No. 1 is infected with the amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri. This particular amoeba is a single-celled living organism found most often in warm freshwater to include hot springs, lakes, ponds, and rivers. However, in some incidents the amoeba has been found in soil as well.
Infections from the Naegleria fowleri amoeba are actually quite rare. In fact, from 2004 to 2013, only 34 infections were reported in the United States and of those, 30 got the infection from recreational water. The infection for three of the other individuals came from water used to perform nasal irrigation and from tap water used for a Slip-N-Slide for one person.
Although the amoeba is considered harmless if ingested through the digestive tract, it can be fatal if it enters the body through the nasal passages where it travels to the brain. Unfortunately, last year, a four-year-old boy from Mississippi died after contracting the brain-eating amoeba from the St. Bernard Parish.
Because of the potential risk, an emergency order to perform a 60-day free chlorine burn for the water system has been called for the St. John Parish. As stated by Littice Bacon-Blood, reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, experts with water district No. 1 will infuse water lines with free chlorine, which is a disinfectant much stronger and faster acting than using ammonia and chlorine combined.
At this time, all school water coolers have been closed within the St. John school system, just as a precaution.