A potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba has been detected in a Louisiana neighborhood’s drinking water — the third time the terrifying discovery has been made in the same parish since 2015, reports said.
Naegleria fowleri, which causes fatal brain swelling and tissue destruction, was found over the weekend in Terrebonne Parish, deep in the Louisiana bayou about an hour south of New Orleans, WWL-TV reported.
“It kinda freaks me out because this is my home, I can’t do what I usually do,” Lindsey Dupre told WWL-TV.
“I want to know I’m secure rather than freak out over an amoeba.”
All freshwater sources in the parish have been affected, including drinking water, the water in the bayous and pools, plus water used for showers and baths.
The water is “perfectly safe to drink,” claimed Michael Sobert from Consolidated Waterworks, “it’s just not safe to get up your nose.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said infection usually occurs when people go swimming in areas where the amoeba is present or when drinking water enters the nose — it can’t be contracted simply from drinking water contaminated with the organism.
Officials have switched from using chloramine to free chlorine, which is more effective at killing off the amoebas, but it’s a temporary fix for a problem exacerbated by the area’s scorching late spring temperatures, which allow the simple-celled organism to flourish. The parish is looking for a permanent solution and is researching the issue to have a better plan in place for next year.
“It’s a way of life, I’m sorry to say that,” Sobert said. “I said it four years ago, as we continue to learn more and more about it, the hope is we can get something that will work.”
Last June, Terrebonne Parish’s water system tested positive for the amoeba in a fire hydrant, and it was also discovered in 2015.
In the meantime, the Louisiana Department of Health advises residents to avoid letting water go up their nose during showers, prohibit children from being unsupervised while playing with hoses and sprinklers, and to not submerge their head in the bathtub.
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