Potentially deadly amoeba found in Louisiana water system

Sept. 14, 2013 at 5:59 PM

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- An amoeba that can cause a deadly infection has been found in the water system in St. Bernard Parish in southern Louisiana, health officials say.

The state Department of Health announced the findings Thursday, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. Experts from the federal for Centers for Disease Control found Naegleria fowleri in four places in the St. Bernard water system in the towns of Arabi and Violet.

Louisiana Health Officer Jimmy Guidry said the water is safe to drink. The amoeba can be deadly when it enters the body through the nose.

A 4-year-old boy from Mississippi died recently of amebic meningoencephalitis, the state Health Department announced this week. Epidemiologists believe he was infected while using a water slide and pool at a home in St. Bernard.

"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," Guidry said.

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