UK & World News
Brain-Eating Amoeba In Towns' Water System
A deadly amoeba that can destroy brain tissue has been found in the water supply of several towns in southeast Louisiana.
The Naegleria fowleri amoeba was found in the water system that serves Reserve, Garyville and Mt Airy, CBS News quoted the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) as saying.
In 2011, a child died after apparently absorbing the organism in a suburb of New Orleans.
And in 2013, the bug was linked to the deaths of an unidentified four-year-old boy from Mississippi and 12-year-old Zachary Reyna from Florida.
The water system belonging to the parish of St John the Baptist, which includes the towns, serves more than 12,500 people.
No illnesses or deaths have been attributed to the amoeba yet but the DHH has ordered the water supply to be monitored and cleaned.
CBS said the St John Water District is the third in Louisiana to test positive for the amoeba.
The amoeba was found in water tested in the Violet and Arabi communities in September 2013.
State and parish officials have said the water will be safe to drink while the system is being cleaned.
Parish President Natalie Robottom told the news channel: "The parish Utilities Department is taking immediate actions to fully chlorinate the water system and eliminate the threat."
"As more information becomes available, it will be released to the public."
In the meantime, she said, residents should avoid allowing water to enter their nose while bathing and swimming.
The Naegleria fowleri amoeba is known to cause a deadly brain infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
It enters the body by attaching itself to the olfactory nerve, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which runs between the smell detectors in the nose and the brain.
It can only attach itself to the olfactory nerve if it enters the nose. It cannot do so by drinking the water.
It eats the part of the brain responsible for smell first before spreading to the rest of the organ.
It is said to be very rare but if it is not treated, it usually results in death, according to Viroj Wiwanitkit, writing in the Medscape journal.