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Brain Damaging Ameoba Found in Louisiana Parish Water

Update Date: Aug 28, 2014 03:48 PM EDT
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Water supply in the St. John the Baptist Parish of Louisiana is infected with a deadly brain-damaging bacteria, the state's health authorities have found.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) discovered the parish's water system is contaminated with Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that causes rare but fatal infections. According to Nola.com, the contamination was identified during DHH's surveillance operations which began earlier in August. Upon detection, the parish water management on Wednesday was asked to perform a chlorine burn to clear the contamination. The parish's water system serves 12,577 people in towns of Reserve, Garyville and Mount Airy.

DHH pointed out that the infection occurred as the water system did not maintain the recommended residual disinfectant level of 0.5 milligram per litre in the distribution lines, USA Today reported. The state administration last year recommended that parishes in Louisiana maintain suggested concentration levels following the death of a 4-year-old after the child had contracted infection during a visit to St Bernard Parish.

On Thursday, St. John the Baptist Parish officials maintained they test water every day but were unaware how the disinfectant levels could have dropped. Investigations are underway, they said.

"Clearly, as we get to exactly what has happened in this case, the protocol will be revisited and if changes are necessary we will take care of that," parish President Natalie Robottom told USA Today.

No infections have been reported from the latest contamination even as parish and state health authorities seek to reassure denizens that the water can be safe for use by exercising some caution.

"Families can take simple steps to protect themselves from exposure to this amoeba, the most importantbeing to avoid allowing water to go up your nose while bathing or swimming in a pool," Louisiana State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry was quoted saying by NBC News.

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