Reports are coming out of Louisiana are claiming that there has been the detection of a deadly and rare amoeba that can eat brain tissue. Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) were carrying out standard tests in the water system that is accessed by 12,577 people in Reserve, Garyville and it was at this time that the Naegleria fowleri bug was found.
The problem is being blamed on the fact that there is a below minimum disinfectant residual level reached as it should have been 0.5milligrams per litre. If this is not reached, there is no longer the ability to keep the amoeba away.
If there is untreated fresh water, then the bug us going to thrive and the same applies to when it is in water heaters. There are also instances where it has been found in swimming pools that have not been treated.
Residents can be reassured by reports that explain the bug will not infect them if they drink the water that has the bug in it, but instead it will reach the brain via the nose. It is rare that people catch the infection but once it is caught it usually results in death. The full name of the infection is primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
Over the last 50 years there have been 132 people infected and only three who lived, so while this can be worrying it is clear that it is not a bug that is likely to cause an epidemic. Information has been received that there has been a death already this year when a nine year old in Kansas was infected after swimming in fresh water.
The advice that the residents are being given is not to let the water get into their noses and throats, but how easy that will be remains to be seen.
Natalie Robottom, Parish President has said “The water, which is now being treated with chlorine, is safe to drink but the infection can pose a risk if it enters the nasal passage”
She went on to explain what was being done to try to keep the residents safe. “The parish Utilities Department is taking immediate actions to fully chlorinate the water system and eliminate the threat.”
She promised that residents will be kept informed of progress and also will ensure that any new advice is passed on, and ended by saying “as more information becomes available, it will be released to the public.”