A 4-year-old boy who was visiting a home Louisiana is the first victim to have the amoeba in his body. Tests conducted on the child shows signs of the amoeba’s presence. Doctors believe the Mississippi residence may have picked up the amoeba during his play on a water slide while he visited Louisiana.
Recent testing of the water supply in the St. Bernard Parish area has confirmed the amoeba exists. The amoeba is known as Naegleria fowleri.
State officials have announced the water supply is still safe to drink as long as residents do not get it in their nose.
Naegleria fowleri is traditionally found in hot springs and in warm fresh water. The southeastern United States tends to carry it more than other areas of the nation. The amoeba travels through the nose and enters the brain, where it begins to consume brain tissue.
Hurricane Katrina is the most likely culprit of the introduction of Naegleria fowleri. St. Bernard Parish was the site in which the boy played on a water slide and was a one of the target areas of Katrina’s wrath.
The water in the areas hit by Katrina became stagnant due to the reduction in the population. This standing water may have affected the components in the water makeup.
Jake Causey, chief engineer for the state’s health and hospitals stated:
One of the concerns is that it was such a drastic population drop after Katrina and the water aged just by sitting in the pipes and also a drop in demand. The more quickly the water is used up, the more the water system is able to process a good chlorine system. If the water is not used, the chlorine dissipates while organisms thrive. We are actively increasing the chlorine level in the parish water system combined with flushing the water system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have given the indication that there is no danger in drinking or cooking with the contaminated water. The victims infected with the amoeba’s brain entry are diagnosed with what is known as “primary amoebic meningoencephalitis.”
The amoeba is associated with disinfected public drinking water and is related to one other known case in the United States. Water that was untreated from a drinking water system in Arizona was responsible for the death of two children in 2003.
Chlorine has been introduced back into the water system in Parishes along the Gulf Coast early last week.
The boy from Mississippi who contracted amoebic meningoencephalitis has passed away. He died last month. The home he was visiting in Louisiana has been tested and results were positive for Naegleria fowleri.