Rare brain eating amoeba found in water supply.

A four year old boy died last month after being infected with a rare brain eating amobea. The Department of that the CDC conducted tests of the parishs’ water supply where the boy lived, and found the presence of Naegleria fowleri in the home but claim that the amobea was not in the main water supply.

State officials emphasize the water is safe to drink although warn about getting any water in the nose.

Naegleria fowleri is found in and warm fresh water, most often in the Southeastern United States. The amoeba enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain. There is no danger of infection from drinking or cooking with contaminated water, the CDC said. Infected patients are diagnosed with primary .
Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba”), is a free-living microscopic amoeba, (single-celled living ). It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater (e.g. lakes, rivers, and ) and . Naegleria fowleri usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose.

Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal. Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming or heated and contaminated tap-water) enters the nose 1, 2, 3.

Assistant Secretary for Public Health J.T. Lane said, “We are working with the parish to make sure precautionary measures are being taken while we await additional test results on samples taken from the area’s water system.”

Parish President David Peralta said, “After notification from our state and federal partners regarding this matter, we conducted immediate and exhaustive testing of the entire water supply of St. Bernard Parish. The CDC’s testing detected no evidence of the parasite, however out of abundance of caution; steps were taken immediately to continue to ensure a safe water supply in St. Bernard Parish. We will continue enhanced monitoring and testing of the water supply.”

The parish has begun treating its water supply with chlorine, due to the low levels detected. The first symptoms of primary appear one to seven days after infection, including headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck, according to the CDC.

“Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations,” the government agency’s website says. “After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within one to 12 days.”


Department of Health and Hospitals, State of Louisiana.

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