A 4-year-old Mississippi boy died over the weekend after contracting the deadly waterborne brain-eating amoeba, according to Louisiana health officials. UPI reported Sept. 6 that the child, whose name has not been released, is believed to have come into contact with the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, while playing on a waterslide.
St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta told CNN affiliate WWLTV that the child apparently contracted the deadly amoeba when visiting a home in the parish.
Water samples taken by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals proved positive for the brain-eating amoeba.
Preventative measures have been instituted by local officials in St. Bernard Parish to ensure that its water system doesn't contain or retain the deadly protozoan. Additional chlorine and a flushing of the water system is hoped to cleanse the water lines, although, thus far, there has been no detected presence of the brain-eating amoeba.
"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," Peralta said.
The 4-year-old boy's death is the second from the deadly amoeba in less than two weeks. Zachary Reyna, 12, died last month after contracting the parasite in Florida.
"This infection is one of the most severe infections that we know of," Dr. Dirk Haselow of the Arkansas Department of Health told CNN affiliate WMC about the Kali Hardig case. "Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die."
Kali Hardig was part of the one percent that survive. The 12-year-old, who may have contracted the brain-eating amoeba at a popular Arkansas water park, was first brought to doctors attention in an unresponsive state and unable to breathe without the assistance of a breathing tube. She was in critical condition.
Doctors almost immediately Hardig with an anti-fungal medicine, antibiotics and a new experimental anti-amoeba drug the hospital got directly from the CDC. She is now walking with assistance and undergoing therapy.
The death in Louisiana is the state's third case, all traced to water, since 2011.
Of the 128 cases of contraction of the brain-eating amoeba known to have occurred in the last fifty years, there have been only two cases where the victim has survived.