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Posted: Wednesday, 09 October 2013 7:35AM

Brain eating amoeba apparently in 2 LA water systems for years

As officials try to rid the St. Bernard tap water of a deadly brain eating parasite, officials confirm the amoeba has been found in another water system. This time it is in North Louisiana.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the presence of the rare ameba in five locations in DeSoto Parish.

Like they have been doing in St. Bernard, crews will try to get rid of the amoeba.

"Waterworks District No. 1 will flush its system with additional chlorine to kill the ameba," according to a news release from DHH.

It turns out the amoeba may have been in the drinking water in both DeSoto and St. Bernard for years.  DHH says there were deaths from the parasite in both parishes in 2011.

"At the time of the 2011 deaths in DeSoto and St. Bernard parishes, officials could only confirm the presence of the ameba in the homes of the deceased, but not in the water systems. More advanced sampling technology is now available through the CDC," according to the news release.

While there have been no additional deaths reported in DeSoto since 2011, a little boy died in St. Bernard after using a Slip 'N' Slide and apparently getting the infected water up his nose last month.

The CDC says both cases in 2011 were the result of people pouring water into their noses for sinus irrigation.

Dr. Jennifer Cope notes, "Tap water from any source is not sterile."

She says no matter where someone lives, they should only use previously boiled, sterile or distilled water for sinus irrigation.

"Families can take simple steps to protect themselves from exposure to this ameba, the most important being to avoid allowing water to go up your nose while bathing or swimming in a pool," said Louisiana State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry. "It is important to remember that the water is safe to drink; the ameba cannot infect an individual through the stomach."

DHH released the following advice for people in St. Bernard and DeSoto Parish:


According to the CDC, personal actions to reduce the risk of Naegleria fowleri infection should focus on limiting the amount of water going up a person's nose and lowering the chances that Naegleria fowleri may be in the water. Preventative measures recommended by the CDC include the following:

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.

DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools) - walk or lower yourself in.

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.

DO run bath and shower taps and hoses for 5 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.

DO keep small hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.

DO use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.

DO keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection means:

Pools: free chlorine at 1-3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2-7.8

Hot tubs/spas: free chlorine 2-4 parts per million (ppm) or free bromine 4-6 ppm and pH 7.2-7.8

If you need to top off the water in your swimming pool with tap water,

Place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running. Do not top off by placing the hose in the body of the pool.

For further information on preventative measures, please visit the CDC website here... http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/prevention.html

DHH launched dhh.louisiana.gov/WaterFacts

Filed Under :  
Locations : Desoto ParishLouisianaNorth Louisiana
People : Jennifer CopeJimmy Guidry
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