Deadly brain-eating amoeba found in Louisiana water system, CDC confirms



A rare
amoeba that caused the August death of a child in south Louisiana has been
found in five locations in a north Louisiana water system, state health
regulators said Tuesday.

The state
Department of Health and Hospitals said in a news release that
the federal
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the presence of the
Naegleria fowleri amoeba in five places in DeSoto Parish Waterworks District
No. 1, which is one of 14 water systems in the parish.

The water
system said it will begin a free chlorine burn in the system Wednesday to last
for 60 days.

“We are
working closely with the water system and parish officials to ensure that the
chlorine levels are increased to a level that will eliminate the risk of
exposure to the amoeba,” said J.T. Lane, assistant secretary of DHH’s
Office of Public Health.

As a result,
residents may notice a change in the smell and taste of the water throughout
the chlorine burn.

“Water
from the DeSoto Parish Water Works District No. 1 remains safe to drink,”
Lane said.

DHH
officials selected the DeSoto water system for additional testing because the
area was the site of one of two 2011 amoeba-related deaths in Louisiana.
Following the confirmation in September that St. Bernard Parish’s water system
had tested positive for the amoeba, DHH tested the DeSoto system as a precautionary
measure.

“No
known additional infections have occurred in DeSoto Parish, as incidences of
infection are extremely rare,” the department said.

Exposure to
the amoeba has historically occurred as a result of swimming or diving in warm
freshwater lakes and rivers. An infection cannot occur by drinking water,
health officials said.

State Health
Officer Jimmy Guidry said there are steps residents can take to reduce risk of
exposure, which can cause a rare brain infection called primary amebic
meningoencephalitis (PAM) that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal.

“The
most important being to avoid allowing water to go up your nose while bathing
or swimming in a pool,” Guidry said. “It is important to remember
that the water is safe to drink; the amoeba cannot infect an individual through
the stomach.”

St. Bernard
Parish, a suburb of New Orleans, started flushing its water lines with
additional chlorine as a precaution after the state linked the amoeba to the
encephalitis death of a child, a 4-year-old boy from Mississippi who was
visiting a home in the parish.

The state
says swimming or diving in freshwater lakes and rivers is the most common way
to be exposed to the amoeba. Infections from other sources, such as heated tap
water and swimming pool water that is inadequately chlorinated, are rare.

In the early
stages, symptoms of an infection from the amoeba are similar to those of
bacterial meningitis and include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff
neck. Later symptoms include confusion, loss of balance, seizures and
hallucinations.

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Read more: foxnews

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