Louisiana officials have issued a word of caution to residents to be cautious subsequent to the discovery of a lethal brain-eating amoeba species in a parish water supply.
It was announced by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals that St. John the Baptist Parish’s water system has been found to be infected with the Naegleria fowleri amoeba. The minuscule amoeba can become quite deadly for human beings in case it passes through the nose and reaches the brain. There this microscopic amoeba can cause a fatal type of meningitis that makes the brain and its adjacent tissues swell.
According to officials, one cannot contract the amoeba by drinking infected water.
The amoeba was discovered in the water system which supplies around 12,577 people taking into consideration three Louisiana towns.
The source which created the contamination has not yet been identified. But officials revealed that the water supplies lacked the requisite amount of chlorine disinfectant. This makes the supply quite vulnerable to Naegleria fowleri contamination.
Till now, infections from this deadly amoeba species have not been reported in the area.
In order to do away with these lethal pathogens, the department has decided to flush out the systems for a period of about two months using additionally high amount of chlorine. This is expected to eliminate any amoeba that is lingering in the system. Even after this flushing is done, the water will still prove safe for drinking purpose.
Although this amoeba species is very rarely found, the pathogen was the cause behind a minimum of three deaths since the year 2011 in Louisiana parishes. A boy aged 4 years died last year in St. Bernard Parish following a contraction of the infection through using a slip-in-slide. A similar scenario in Australia occurred owing to an improperly disinfected and overheated stretch of overland pipe. The contamination, which caused many people to die, led to regular monitoring of drinking water for Naegleria.
In this summer a girl aged 9 years died in Kansas after contamination from this deadly amoeba.
Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana State Health Officer, said that it would be good for the families to take certain simple steps for protection against exposure to the lethal amoeba. The most vital step is to see that water does not travel upwards into the nose while taking a bath or swimming inside a pool. One should keep in mind that the water is safe for drinking purpose because the amoeba cannot cause infection to an individual by entering through the stomach.
The US Centers for Disease Control has revealed that the signs of a contamination from Naegleria fowleri incorporate nausea, fever and headache. With the progression of the disease, infected persons can experience altered mental status, seizures, and hallucinations, and may even slip into a state of coma.
In almost all the cases, the disease proves to be fatal. During the period between the years 1963 and 2013, only three people in the US managed to get well from the infection and survive out of a total of 132 people who contaminated the disease, as stated by the CDC.