Story Summary

Brain-attacking amoeba found in St. Bernard Parish water

Naegleria fowleri

Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain. It’s usually found in people who have been swimming in warm freshwater. The amoeba causes a fatal brain infection, according to the CDC.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 7 updates
Naegleria fowleri

Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain. It’s usually found in people who have been swimming in warm freshwater. The amoeba causes a fatal brain infection, according to the CDC.

(CNN) — Brain-eating amoebae were found in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, where a 51-year-old woman died from an infection in 2011, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said.

The parish’s Waterworks District No. 1 — one of 14 systems in the parish — was to flush its system with additional chlorine Wednesday to kill the amoeba, the department said in a release Tuesday.

Residents, over the next two months, “may notice a change in the smell and taste of the water throughout the chlorine burn. However, the water will remain safe to drink,” the department said.

The state selected the district’s water for additional testing because of the 2011 death. After the Naegleria fowleri amoeba was detected last month in St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans — and linked to the August death of a 4-year-old boy — the state tested DeSoto Parish’s water as a precautionary measure.

The district serves almost 5,000 customers in DeSoto Parish, which includes the city of Mansfield, south of Shreveport.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the amoeba’s presence; there are no known current illnesses reported in the state.

“Families can take simple steps to protect themselves from exposure to this (amoeba), the most important being to avoid allowing water to go up your nose while bathing or swimming in a pool,” state health officer Jimmy Guidry said in the release. “It is important to remember that the water is safe to drink; the (amoeba) cannot infect an individual through the stomach.”

The first symptoms of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis appear one to seven days after infection. They include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck, according to the CDC.

“Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations,” the CDC website says. “After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within one to 12 days.”

The state released a list of precautions residents could take to lower their risk of infection.

Among them: Don’t allow water to go up your nose while swimming, bathing or washing your face; lower yourself carefully into tubs and pools to avoid splashing; avoid playing in sprinklers or on Slip ‘n Slides; run taps for five minutes before use; use boiled or distilled water for sinus rinse solutions and neti pots; and be sure to keep swimming pools and hot tubs disinfected.

Officials say the Mississippi 4-year-old who died in St. Bernard Parish in August had been playing on a homemade waterslide made of a long sheet of plastic when he contracted amoebic meningoencephalitis.

In 2011, a woman, 51, in DeSoto Parish and a 20-year-old man near New Orleans died after rinsing their sinuses with neti pots, the Department of Health and Hospitals said.

Officials say fewer than 1% of patients survive the deadly brain infection caused by the amoeba, but an experimental drug from the CDC has shown promise in fighting it.

Kali Hardig, a 12-year-old in Arkansas, survived after contracting the amoeba in July, possibly at a Little Rock, Arkansas, water park.

CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin and David SImpson contributed to this report.

Neighbors in St Bernard Parish hoped they’d get amoeba answers during a public meeting Thursday night.

Instead, many just got more confused.

There seems to be more questions than answers concerning the brain eating amoeba found in the St Bernard Parish water system.

The water system and sewer committee grilled the parish president who could provide limited information regarding safety.

The public was not allowed to speak at the meeting where officials say they did nothing wrong.

The Department of Health and Hospitals will be in St. Bernard Parish to field amoeba  questions Monday at 7pm.

Naegleria fowleri

Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain. It’s usually found in people who have been swimming in warm freshwater. The amoeba causes a fatal brain infection, according to the CDC.

(CNN) — Tests of a Louisiana parish’s water supply confirmed the presence of a rare brain-eating amoeba blamed for last month’s death of a 4-year-old boy.

The state’s Department of Health & Hospitals said Thursday that tests conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found Naegleria fowleri in St. Bernard Parish water.

The water is safe to drink, state officials said, although they cautioned against getting water in the nose.

To read the water quality reports, click here:

After several water tests in Saint Bernard Parish came back positive for the rare brain-eating amoeba that claimed the life of a four-year old, some residents are taking matters into their own hands.

WGNO’s Erin Nicole has the story.

St. Bernard Parish is taking steps to make sure there are no more infections caused by a brain-eating amoeba.

Reports of a killer  amoeba in the water supply,  which has already claimed one life, has Edgar Brown on high alert, “Is that going to give me the amoeba that will eat my brain up and shorten my life? Today is my birthday. I`m making 59.”

To make 60… Louisiana State Epidemiologist Raoult Ratard says remember just one thing,  “The only way you can get the amoeba is to get inside the nose.”

“Yes your nose. It`s got to go up your nose,” says Brown.  “That could happen in the shower you know? I`m trying to be very careful.

“When you take a shower water usually goes down. It does not go up,” says Ratard. “If you take a bath, don`t put your head under water. You want to be sure the amoeba is not there? You make sure there is enough chlorine in the water.”

Plaquemines  Parish is asking the state to test its water supply.  There is  no problem with Plaquemines’ water  but the parish wants to order the tests as a precaution.

(from St. Bernard Parish) – St. Bernard Parish Government has set up a recorded message which provides information on precautionary measures suggested by the Center for Disease Control.  Residents can contact 504-278-4251 to hear personal actions that will help reduce the risk of Naegleria fowleri (Amoeba) infection.

Some common sense suggestions from the CDC include:

  • 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 5 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.
  • DO keep small hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.
  • DO use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.
  • DO keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection means:

o    Pools: free chlorine at 1-3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2-7.8

o    Hot tubs/spas: free chlorine 2-4 parts per mill (ppm) or free bromine 4-6 ppm & pH 7.2-7.8

  • If you need to top off the water in your swimming pool with tap water,
  • DO place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running.
  • DO NOT top off by placing the hose in the body of the pool.

Residents can also visit the CDC’s Website at or pick up information at the government complex or the Water and Sewer office.

The CDC confirms a rare brain-eating amoeba has been found in the St. Bernard Parish water system.

The amoeba has been blamed for the death of a 4-year-old girl.

The health department says the water is safe to drink but residents should take precautions.

Officials say the amoeba is only dangerous if inhaled through the nose.