Warnings Issued For Louisiana After Brain-Eating Amoebas Are Found In Water

Two water systems in Louisiana have tested positive for brain-eating amoebas according to the State Health Department.

Naegleria fowleri, the organism frequently called the brain-eating amoeba, was detected in Ouachita Parish’s North Monroe Water System and Terrebonne Parish’s Schriever Water System on June 29.

This amoeba can cause a brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). This infection is almost always fatal. Symptoms in the early stages of the infection can include a severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. As the infection progresses, individuals may experience hallucinations and seizures before falling into a coma.

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The Louisiana Department of Health urges residents to avoid getting water in their noses, as that is the primary way the organism infects the brain. They also recommend that individuals run baths and shower taps for at least five minutes in order to flush the pipes of any potential amoeba contamination.

Officials state that drinking tap water is still safe. However, the CDC cautions against submerging your head in water while bathing, showering or washing your face. Above all, they recommend limiting the amount of water on or around the face and especially the nose.

The amoebas were discovered during routine testing of the systems. The affected water systems will be switching over to a “free chlorine method” disinfection method for 60 days in order to eliminate the amoeba from the water supply. Until that period has ended, the department cautions all residents to follow the recommendations above and any further local instructions.