Louisiana Drinking Water Contaminated with Brain-Eating Amoeba

The brain-eating amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri has been confirmed to be in Louisiana, specifically, in the St. Bernard Parish in Southeast New Orleans. This can be a very deadly amoeba and has been found for the second time in the last two years.

The Contaminated St. Bernard Parish

The brain-eating amoeba was found in two of the five water supply sources. These water sources run for around 200 miles and produce water to 44,000 people. Officials are unsure of how the amoeba got into the water supply, as it has been found in both the treated and untreated water. It is possible that the water sources came in contact with warm ground water where the amoeba occurs naturally. Officials have planned a chlorine burn within the next couple of months to kill off the deadly amoeba.

Naegleria fowleri-The Brain-Eating Amoeba

Naegleria fowleri, or the ‘brain-eating amoeba’, is a type of Naegleria that can cause the disease meningoencephalitis, or PAM. Although it is rare, PAM can be an extremely fatal infection. The Center for Disease Control says that PAM is most often caught when a person gets water up his or her nose from swimming or another activity. PAM will eat away at the patient’s brain until it kills him or her, so the possibility of it should be taken very seriously.

The brain-eating amoeba cannot be transferred to a person through drinking or touching water, but caution should still be taken when in contact with the infected water. If the contaminated water gets into the nose, it will inch its way up to the brain where it will begin its process. However, symptoms are not immediate. It takes about 5 days for stiffness of the neck, nausea, and fever to be seen in the person.

Previous Cases

There have been several other reported cases of death from this brain-eating amoeba. One was in Minnesota while the other was in California. A 2003 study found that two children died from PAM in Arizona. A more recent study from 2015 found that a 4 year old from Louisiana caught PAM. In this case, it wasn’t contracted through swimming, but instead through playing on the water-slide that he had at his home.


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