DONALDSVILLE, La. (WGNO) – A dangerous brain-eating amoeba has been found in Ascension Parish, the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) said Tuesday.
The amoeba, named Naegleria fowleri, was detected in a portion of the water system which serves around 1,800 people in a small community of north Donaldsonville.
Last week the amoeba was detected in the St. Bernard Parish water system.
Both Ascension Parish and St. Bernard Parish are undergoing a mandatory 60-day chlorine burn to kill the amoeba.
Tap water which contains Naegleria fowleri is safe for residents to drink, but the Department urges residents to avoid getting water in their noses. Naegleria fowleri is an ameba that occurs naturally in freshwater, but has recently caused infections and has been linked to deaths including three in Louisiana.
So far, DHH has tested 11 other systems for the amoeba and are still awaiting lab results for each.
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.