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Brain-eating amoeba in Louisiana water system: Keep tap water out of your nose

While the brain-eating amoeba has been a rare occurrence in the past, the news today that the amoeba is now found in a Louisiana water system that 12,500 people are tapped into and use daily is alarming to hear. While no illnesses or deaths have been reported from the brain-eating amoeba, the flushing process of the water lines is said to take about two months so folks will need to use tap water for bathing with caution.

Brain-eating amoeba in Louisiana water system: Plug those noses!
Brain-eating amoeba in Louisiana water system: Plug those noses!
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According to ABC News on Aug 28, the water is safe to drink, the brain-eating amoeba attacks the brain usually by traveling through the nostrils to the brain. In the past, swimming and diving into fresh water lakes and rivers have been the origin of someone contracting the deadly bacteria.

The water system in St. John the Baptist Parish was found to have the brain-eating amoeba during testing as part of a state surveillance program that was launched in the beginning of August. The system that provides water to the parish is on the east bank of the Mississippi River.

While there is a water purification system used that usually kills the organism before it gets into drinking water, this is not fail-safe. The organism can seep through a crack in the pipe and get into the water after it has gone through the purification process.

A strong chlorine smell coming out of faucets in the parish is due to the chlorine level being raised to kill this brain-eating amoeba. The water system that was found to have the brain-eating amoeba services people in the Reserve, Garyville and Mount Airy communities.

What should the families living in this area do?

They can protect themselves from exposure from the brain-eating amoeba with a simple step, reports The Weather Channel Today. The most important thing to remember is do not let water go up your nose when you are bathing or swimming in a pool, so keep your nose free of tap water. The water is safe to drink as the amoeba does not infect the individual through the stomach.

St. John the Baptist Parish has turned off all water fountains in their schools as a precaution for the kids. The brain-eating amoeba travels through the nose to the brain where it causes a deadly infection. The infection is called “primary amebic meningencephalitis, which is almost always fatal.

There have been 34 cases of the brain-eating amoeba disease in the last 10 years, with only one lone survivor. The chlorine burn that started in the water system on Wednesday will continue for 60 days.