St. Bernard Parish doctors are prepared with anti-amoeba drugs - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

St. Bernard Parish Hospital gets best available anti-amoeba drugs

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Chalmette, La. - Doctors at the St. Bernard Parish Hospital are working with state and federal health officials to make sure they're as ready as they can be, just in case an amoeba infection case cause comes through their doors. 

An experimental drug called Miltefosine is believed to be the best-chance drug to cure the infection. Friday, Miltefosine was en route to the New Orleans area.

Meanwhile, patients such as 8-year-old Daryl Davis, Jr. from Chalmette are filling St. Bernard Parish Hospital's emergency room with symptoms like sore throats and fevers.

"I was worried about it because I gave him a bath shower, a half-bath/half-shower, two nights ago and he started with this, and that's why I got worried. And it got progressively worse," Davis' father said.

Concern with the parish water system has patients admitting themselves with minor sicknesses.

"Some people with common cold symptoms are coming in because they're a little bit fearful about what could be going on in their bodies. So we do see a heightened number of people coming to the hospital," said Wayne J. Landry, St. Bernard Parish Hospital's CEO.

An infection from the amoeba is very rare, according to health officials. However, hospital administrators want patients to know that, if anyone does come in with an infection from the amoeba, they have the best tools available to diagnose and treat it.

Fluids from a spinal tap are examined by local doctors under a microscope. If there is anything suspicious, doctors from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would examine the pictures of the slide. If there's still a concern, the spinal fluid would be flown to CDC experts for an official diagnosis.

However, the best available treatment has only ever been used twice.

"It's not a magic wand drug. It's not the silver bullet, but it has a 50/50 case of success right now. One it was successful, and one it wasn't," said Landry.

12-year-old Kali Hardig of Arkansas is one of only two patients ever known to survive the infection from the amoeba. The new experimental drug Miltefosine is credited with saving her life this summer.

The CDC has the drug and is bringing it to New Orleans to have on standby for the area, "so that we can have immediate access to it in case we need it," said Landry.

Doctors say it can take as little as two days for the infection to become fatal. So, the hospital is stocked with the recommended first round of drugs in order to start the treatment right away.

After the first four drugs are used, the CDC decides if the last drug, Miltefosine, is needed for a final hit on the amoeba.

It's not a guaranteed cure, but it's enough to make worried patients feel much more comfortable about their care.

"He's in good hands. I'm at the right place," said Davis.

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