State officials in Louisiana have confirmed that a child died after contracting a deadly brain-eating amoeba. A plastic water slide is suspected to be the place where the child caught the deadly infection.
The Naegleria fowleri amoeba is waterborne; David Peralta, from St Bernhard Parish, confirmed that samples taken from the home where the child lived tested positive for the amoeba.
The St. Bernhard Parish began treating its water system last week with additional chlorine in an attempt to flush out any contaminated water which may have entered the pipes.
J.T. Lane, the Assistant Secretary for Public Health, said in a statement: “We are working with the parish to make sure precautionary measures are being taken while we await additional test results on samples taken from the area’s water system.”
The four-year-old victim, who was from Mississippi, is the second child to have died in less than two weeks. In August, Zachary Reyna, a 12-year-old boy from Florida, also died from being in contact with the same brain-eating amoeba while playing in his garden.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 32 cases of Naegleria fowleri were reported in the United States between 2001 – 2010, with the bulk of the cases being in the Southeast region.
The amoeba is found in and around hot springs and warm freshwater. It enters the body through the nasal passage, traveling straight to the brain.
Dr Dirk Haselow from the Arkansas Dept. of Health spoke to CNN about the fatal amoeba: “This infection is one of the most severe infections that we know of. Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die.”
The health agency confirms on its website that initial symptoms, which appear around seven days after being infected, include severe headaches, fever, sickness and a stiff neck. If you live in an area with hot springs and detect any of the above symptoms, you should immediately contact paramedics, for further instruction.