ST. BERNARD PARISH, LA (WVUE) - An organism that can be fatal if inhaled has been found again the St. Bernard Parish water system, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
Naegleria fowleri, also referred to as the "brain-eating amoeba," was discovered at the site of a leaking sampling station. The water system, which serves 44,000 residents in St. Bernard Parish, was tested by DHH as part of the state's new public drinking water surveillance program. DHH notified the water system and local officials Wednesday evening.
DHH has requested a 60-day chlorine burn to ensure that any remaining amoebas in the system are eliminated. Parish President Dave Peralta confirmed that the system would conduct the burn out of an abundance of caution.
DHH says tap water in St. Bernard Parish is safe for residents to drink, but says residents should avoid getting water in their noses.
Following are precautionary measures from the federal Centers for Disease Control:
According to the CDC, every resident can take simple steps to help reduce their risk of Naegleria fowleri infection. Individuals should focus on limiting the amount of water going up their nose. Preventative measures recommended by the CDC include the following:
DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.
DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools); walk or lower yourself in.
DO NOT allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their nose. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water going up the nose.
DO run bath and shower taps and hoses for five minutes before use to flush out the pipes. This is most important the first time you use the tap after the water utility raises the disinfectant level.
DO keep small hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing and allowing them to dry after each use.
DO use only boiled and cooled, distilled or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.
DO keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection means:
Pools: free chlorine at 1 to 3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2 to 7.8, and
Hot tubs/spas: free chlorine 2 to 4 parts per million (ppm) or free bromine 4 to 6 ppm and pH 7.2 to 7.8.
If you need to top off the water in your swimming pool with tap water, place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running. Do not top off the pool by placing the hose in the body of the pool.