A brain eating amoeba was discovered in a water system that services several towns in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reported on Wednesday that they had detected the amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, in a water sample taken two weeks ago from Water District No. 1, and have warned the more than twelve and a half thousand residents of Reserve, Garyville and Mount Airy to take precautionary measures.
According to the CDC, the amoeba can only infect the brain by traveling through the nose. The most common victims of the amoeba are people who were infected when swimming or diving in warm bodies of fresh water, such as lakes and rivers, where the organism thrives. As the amoeba cannot infect a person through the stomach, the infected water is safe to drink.
Currently, there are no known cases of infection from contamination, but that hasn’t stopped community members from acting cautiously. A local paper reports that the St. John public school system has taken action by turning off water fountains at all schools in the district, even going so far as to tape over the fountains for good measure.
This is not the first time the area has had problems with this amoeba. In 2013 a four-year-old boy from Mississippi died from an infection while on a visit to the St. Bernard Parish, prompting the state to impose higher levels in water systems. St. John the Baptist Parish used a “chlorine burn” to meet the states’ new disinfectant requirements in March of this year. The Parish launched a second attempt at using the “chlorine burn” on Thursday at 7 a.m., hoping to completely eradicate the amoeba this time.