Brain-eating parasite found in Louisiana water

Brain-eating parasite found in Louisiana water

The CDC and Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals are concerned about a brain-eating amoeba in the water and are issuing warnings

The Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals announced a warning to the community of St. Bernard Parish that they found a brain-eating amoeba in the area’s drinking water.

The parasite, called Naegleria fowleri, was found during two separate state tests in two different places. The local water authority has been instructed to begin a chlorine “burn” which would increase the chlorine levels in the drinking water to remove the threat, according to

This type of amoeba normally lives in warm, fresh water. The microscopic organism is responsible for a very rare and very serious infection called amebic meningoencephalitis. According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), the illness is contracted by patients who get water up their nose while swimming or during other activities in the water.

The CDC has confirmed that the illness cannot be contracted through drinking the water.

In 2003 two children in Arizona died from PAM where the amoeba was dispersed in areas of plumbing where the water could stand and then become warm. Neither of the two children that died had any exposure to lakes or rivers, but only had contact with water while playing in the bath tub.

Again, in 2015, a four-year-old boy died in Louisiana from PAM. Information released showed that the boy had no history of playing in fresh water, however, he frequented a water slide at his home. When tested, both water from the home and from the water supply were positive for N. fowleri.

The CDC has said that the disease is very rare and that they have reports of 133 cases of primary amebic meningoencephalitis between 1962 and 2014.

Of the 133 cases, children make up 112 of them and 75 percent of the infections were in male patients.

“Infected people were often reported to have participated in water-related activities such as swimming underwater, diving, and head dunking that could have caused water to go up the nose.”

The Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals have expressed many suggestions for preventing the infection. At the top of the list, they stressed to avoid getting untreated water up the nose. Even people who use neti pots or perform nasal rinses are recommended to use distilled or sterile water.

They also recommend that children’s water toys and wading pools should be emptied and scrubbed clean after every single use. And for chlorine levels in swimming pools and hot tubs to be kept at levels that would disinfect the water.


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