A horrifying announcement was made Wednesday by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The deadly brain-eating Naelgeria Fowleri Amoeba has once again been found in the water supply in two of the seven water sites that supply St. Bernard Parish, a New Orleans suburb that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago.
In 2013, a 4-year-old Mississippi boy became infected while playing on a slip ‘n slide – he didn’t survive. Three people have perished over the years in St. Bernard Parish due to this insidious amoeba which has led to two lawsuits against the treatment facilities, according to the Daily Mail.
The water is safe to drink, however officials are urging residents to not get the water into their noses. The deadly amoeba enters through the nose and for reasons not yet clear, can attach itself to nerves that send smell signals to the brain. It then multiplies causing brain swelling and infections which is said to be deadly 97 percent of the time.
NBC News reports that while both stations tested positive for the amoeba, only one is suspected to have been from contaminated ground water which may have leaked in after a car hit the station, causing damage. The DHH Safe Drinking Water Program staff has said that “The second positive test occurred at 948 Angela Street,” and “Chlorine levels at the site of the positive sample did meet the 0.5 mg/l requirement.”
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 St. Bernard Parish population has never return to its numbers since Hurricane Katrina, which has led to the less-used water supply to become warm and stagnant; a perfect breeding ground for the Naegleri Fowleri. Olivia Hwang, a health department official, says “Use is good because it pushes new water through the system.”
There are a number of parts of St. Bernard parish that still don’t have the same levels of population since Hurricane Katrina. Use is good because it pushes new water through the system.
And while Hwang says they’re putting extra chlorine into the water – chlorine kills the amoeba – there are several steps you can take to protect yourself in the mean time:
- 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.
And in other water related news, watch out for beach fecal contamination.