TERREBONNE PARISH, La. (WGNO) - The dangerous brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, was found in Terrebonne Parish, the parish's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness announced on Facebook Monday.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) notified local officials Monday of the amoeba in at least one hydrant as a result of sample testing on August 5, 2015.
That hydrant is located in the Schriever Water System at 588 Island Road, Montegut (Pointe Aux Chenes).
DHH says the water system serves approximately 97,000 residents.
Consolidated Waterworks District #1 has begun a chlorine burn that will last for 60 days to ensure that any remaining amoeba in the system is killed. Parish officials began the burn Monday afternoon and will conduct an additional burn in the Houma Water System out of an abundance of caution.
The DHH stressed that tap water is safe for residents to drink, but the urges residents to avoid getting water in their noses. Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that occurs naturally in freshwater, but can cause a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is a brain infection that leads to brain tissue destruction. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to bacterial meningitis.
This summer DHH's water surveillance program has tested 21 systems for Naegleria fowleri. The amoeba was found in Ascension Parish and St. Bernard Parish. Both parishes are conducting chlorine burns.
Precautionary Measures for Families
According to the CDC, every resident can take simple steps to help reduce their risk of Naegleria fowleri infection. Individuals should focus on limiting the amount of water going up their nose. Preventative measures recommended by the CDC include the following:
- 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 five 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:
– Pools: free chlorine at 1 to 3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2 to 7.8, and
– Hot tubs/spas: free chlorine 2 to 4 parts per million (ppm) or free bromine 4 to 6 ppm and pH 7.2 to 7.8.
- If you need to top off the water in your swimming pool with tap water, place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running. Do not top off the pool by placing the hose in the body of the pool.
Residents should continue these precautions until testing no longer confirms the presence of the amoeba in the water system. Residents will be made aware when that occurs. For further information on preventative measures, please visit the CDC website here: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/prevention.html.