Deadly Brain Amoeba Infects First American Water System

A deadly brain-eating amoeba has been found in a US drinking water supply in the Louisiana area.

According to NBC News, the deadly brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, has been found in a New Orleans-area water system.

“We have never seen Naegleria colonizing a treated water supply before,” said Dr. Michael Beach, head of water safety for the CDC. “From a U.S. perspective this is a unique situation.”

After the death of a four-year-old St. Bernhard Parish boy, investigations into the water supply began because it is believed that the boy was infected with the deadly amoeba while playing in a slip-n-slides.

NBC News continued on to say that N. fowleri is usually found in warm, fresh waters all over the world:

“It’s been seen in hot springs and swimming holes, freshwater lakes and even in neti pots used to clean out sinuses. Incomplete disinfection probably allowed it to thrive in St. Bernard, which has its own independent water system, Beach says.”

“The key to this is understanding that this amoeba is kind of a heat-loving bug,” Beach said in a telephone interview. “If water temperatures start going up, you really need to be extremely careful about maintaining the disinfectant. The farther you go from a plant, the more likely you are for the disinfectant levels to get low.”

The Independent reported that the deadly amoeba enters the brain via contaminated water, which is inhaled through the nose that leads to an infection that destroys brain tissues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Naegleria fowleriusually infects people when contaminated waters enter the body through the nose only.

The first symptoms include flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and a stiff neck.

The Independent goes on to report that later symptoms could include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations.

State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry said: “The water is safe to drink and there are basic precautions that families can take, such as chlorinating their pools and avoiding getting water in their noses, to protect themselves, though infection from this amoeba is very rare.”

the St. Bernard Parish area had begun working to flush the water system with extra chlorine to help kill off the deadly brain amoeba but still is issuing precautionary measures for families, which can be found here.

[Image via Shutterstock/Nixx Photography]