The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri amoeba at the Ascension Consolidated Utility District No. 1.
According to the LDHH, the ACUD is off Brou Road and serves approximately 1,800 residents in a small community north of Donaldsonville.
Health officials said the site was tested as part of the state’s new public drinking water surveillance program. DHH notified the water system and local officials Tuesday afternoon.
Beginning Tuesday, Ascension Parish officials said a 60-day chlorine burn would begin to help ensure that any remaining brain-eating amoeba in the system are eliminated.
The DHH said the water system was not in compliance with the requirements for chloramine disinfectant levels established in 2013 and additional requirements set forth in 2014 by the Louisiana Legislature. Three other sites with the system tested negative for the amoeba but did not meet the requirement for disinfectant.
While tap water from the Ascension Consolidated Utility District No. 1 is safe for residents to drink, DHH urges residents to avoid getting water in their noses. The brain-eating amoeba occurs naturally in freshwater.
According to a news release, brain-eating amoeba infections are extremely rare each summer when temperatures rise. So far, the DHH has tested 12 other systems for the amoeba. One positive result was identified on July 22 in St. Bernard Parish, which is conducting a chlorine burn throughout the water system to eliminate any remaining amoeba.
The DHH said Naegleria fowleri causes a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which is a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to bacterial meningitis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are several steps people can take to reduce their risk of Naegleria fowleri infection. Preventative measures include:
– Do not allow water to go up your nose or sniff water while bathing, showering or washing your face
– Do not jump into or put your head under bathing water
– Do not allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers
– Do run bath and shower taps and hoses for five minutes before use to flush out pipes
– Do use only boiled and coolest, distilled or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots
More information can be found on the DHH website.