Erin Brockovich Versus the Brain-Eating Amoeba

The tireless Erin Brockovich is on the case again, and this time she’s fighting a growing plague of brain-eating amoeba in Louisiana’s St. John’s Parish. The attorney and environmental activist—made famous by the 2000 biopic that bears her name, and earned Julia Roberts multiple awards for the starring role—was quick to respond to the pleas for help from concerned Parish residents.

According to Fox News 8 New Orleans, Brockovich sent her chief environmental investigator, Bob Bowcock, to Louisiana this Tuesday to delve into the details regarding the deadly amoeba infesting the local water supply. One St. John’s resident emailed Brockovich last Thursday and was rewarded with a call from Bowcock the next day.

Then on Friday, Erin announced on her Facebook page that Bowcock would be going to the Parish to hold a town hall meeting to begin an investigation.

It’s clear that the famously determined attorney hasn’t lost her passion for helping the public fight against the indifference of corporations and the government. Earlier this year, the Inquisitr reported on another recent example of Brockovich’s ongoing crusade for public safety and environmental protection, when she visited the site of the Freedom Industries chemical spill in West Virginia.

The amoeba sickening St. John’s Parish residents is called Naegleria fowleri, and was detected in the Lions water system in late August. Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals prescribed a drastic increase in chlorine to solve the problem, in a measure that’s known as a “chlorine burn.” To the residents asking Erin Brockovich for help, however, the spike in chlorine has been viewed as a second layer of concern over their drinking water, rather than a welcome solution.

Naegleria fowleri is common in warm freshwater bodies. If inhaled through the nose when submerged in infected water, it can easily reach the brain and cause a deadly infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC website, however, states that you can’t be infected by the amoeba by drinking contaminated water.

On Tuesday night, Bowcock talked to frightened residents on behalf of Brockovich before addressing the Parish Council. The investigator said

“You’ve created super biofilm. You have super nitrification in your distribution system that no matter how hard you try to chlorine burn them out they’re just going to continue to get worse.”

Bowcock added that it would take the intervention of the EPA to wipe out the infestation and clear up the conditions that are promoting the proliferation of Naegleria fowleri.

Only time will tell if Erin Brockovich will win the day in the battle against the St. John’s Parish amoeba.