Naegleria+fowleriLate 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 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.

Based on current monthly chloramine residual compliance reports, the water system has met the requirements with Louisiana rules for chloramine disinfectant levels set forth by the 2013 by emergency rule and additional requirements in 2014 by the Louisiana Legislature. Five other sites on the system tested negative for the amoeba and one site did not meet the required level of disinfectant.

Tap water in St. Bernard Parish is safe for residents to drink, but the Department urges residents to avoid getting water in their noses. Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that occurs naturally in freshwater.

As Naegleria fowleri infections are extremely rare, testing for this amoeba in public drinking water is still relatively new and evolving. Fewer than 10 deaths in the United States have been traced back to the amoeba, with three occurring in Louisiana over the last several years. The amoeba was identified in St. Bernard Parish Water System in the summer of 2013; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the system no longer tested positive for the presence of the amoeba in February 2014.

DHH conducts sampling of public drinking water systems for Naegleria fowleri each summer when temperatures rise. So far, DHH has tested 12 other systems for the amoeba and still awaiting lab results for each.

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.

Precautionary Measures for Families:

According to the CDC, every resident can take simple steps to help reduce their risk of Naegleria fowleri infection. Individuals should focus on limiting the amount of water going up their nose. 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 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.
  • 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:

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

  • one_ searcher

    Brain Eating Amoeba Found in Louisiana.– maybe it has effected all those folks who still think it is OK to walk around and carry a gun after the shooting in the Louisiana movie theater..

    • Tim Cook

      shut it liberal

      • newaunts

        Big Internet muscles.

    • Pete Scott

      Its more than ok because of that.

    • drielok

      It’s an “unalienable right”.

      Jefferson understood “unalienable rights” as fixed rights given to us by our Creator rather than by government. The emphasis on our Creator is crucial, because it shows that the rights are permanent just as the Creator is permanent.

  • 18Gerald18

    What does Bobby Jindel have to say about this? That we should have a discussion after the crisis passes?

    • George Armstrong Bluster

      Bobby Jindal is already suffering from a brain eating attack by the amoeba.

    • Robert

      Probably “that’s how I got elected.”

    • Lefty2

      Deregulation will solve the problem.

  • Don E. Darko

    It must be pretty common everywhere in the South.

  • Richard Altman

    Explains a lot.

  • Dan Whitcomb

    Louisiana – isn’t that in central America? If not it should be.

    • Jessica Coker

      What state are you from Mr. Whitcomb? Just curious.

  • Mike Smith

    Free Chlorine residual: damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Using free chlorine is a better disinfectant than chloramines, but it creates more disinfection byproducts that the feds say may cause cancer – if you drink 7 gallons of water per day for 50 years. So the water utility industry uses chloramines – chlorine combined with ammonia – which is a weaker disinfectant and probably failed to kill the amoeba during the water treatment process. The ‘free chlorine burn’ will replace the chloramine disinfectant with the stronger free chlorine compound at a higher residual until the problem parasite disappears.

  • Truth

    Go that’s why they vote Republican and against their own interests.

  • WorkingClassGuy

    Brain eating amoeba in Louisiana water? That amoeba will likely die of starvation then. This state stinks.

    • Lefty2

      Best post of the week!

  • tipjet

    Oh please! “Tap water in St. Bernard Parish is safe for residents to drink, but the Department urges residents to avoid getting water in their noses. Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that occurs naturally in freshwater.” What nitwit thinks that one won’t get water up their nose from drinking it. It can end up there from behind the pallet. So, based on the Department’s guidance, one might discern that its safer to drink the water than to shower or bathe in it. Oh my!

  • bungo

    Is everyone here like Donald Trump? Jeez….

  • sirjonk

    Well, that does explain Bobby Jindal.

  • Julie Franke

    Didn’t know Hillary was in LA…

  • Q3 Technologies

    This is a ridiculous news article. They are able to prove that only about 10 deaths have occured, all in louisiana. No major government project will look to prevent this scientifically or medically.

    NG, http://www.q3tech.com

    • drielok

      Wrong. 10 in the U.S. with 3 in Louisiana.

  • Pete Scott

    Disgusts me the joking and ignorance in te comments.
    This isnt anything funny at all

  • ElKrisO

    Brain eating amoeba has already been proven to be caused by man made global warming…. according to the government.

  • Yoshi

    yay!!!!!!

  • Y

    who are you yoshi

  • Yoshi

    I am a dino

  • Y

    thats boring

  • Yoshi

    I know its boring

  • Diamondyoshi

    I love you Y/

  • Y/

    What!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Booyah

    I just got my free chlorine burn