The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a brain-eating amoeba has been discovered in the water system in St. Bernard Parish, La. and the death of a boy has been linked to it.
The Huffington Post reports that the amoeba, known as Naegleria fowleri, has been connected to the death of 4-year-old boy last week. Infection from the dangerous amoeba is considered rare, but can cause an extremely dangerous brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which usually kills the person who has it in less than two weeks.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said that testing of water samples confirmed the presence of the amoeba in St. Bernard Parish. The parish had started flushing its water lines with chlorine last week as a precaution, before the CDC made its determination.
"We know that chlorine kills Naegleria fowleri, which is why it was critical that the parish proactively began flushing its water system with additional chlorine last week," J.T. Lane, the state's assistant secretary for public health, said in a statement. "The parish will continue this action until it raises chlorine residuals to recommended levels, and this process will continue for several weeks. DHH is working with parish officials to provide assistance and support to the parish's staff to ensure that chlorine levels are being monitored daily."
Health officials say it’s OK to drink the water, but don’t let it go up your nose.
"While the water is safe to drink, there is a risk if the amoeba enters the nose," State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry said Thursday, according to The Times-Picayune. "There are basic precautions that families can take -- such as chlorinating their pools and avoiding getting water in their noses -- to protect themselves, though infection from this amoeba is very rare."
MSN reports that Arkansas girl miraculously survived the condition earlier this summer. She likely contracted the amoeba at a water park.