After the brain eating amoeba was identified in St. Bernard Parish only last week, it has just been found in Ascension Parish, Louisiana as well.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has identified the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in the Ascension’s water system and is now imposing a 60-day obligatory chlorination procedure, so that the all traces of the amoeba be removed and the water system can be declared risk free.
The affected water system in Ascension Parish is significantly smaller than the one in St. Bernard Parish, as it only supplies water to approximately 1,800 people.
At the moment, the Louisiana DHH is waiting on the results from several other tests conducted on as many as 11 other water systems in the region, so that they can get a better understanding of the entire situation. An overview will provide them with more information, in order to identify the cause of the Naegleria spread and also to find better solutions.
For now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are issuing the same set of guidelines for the Ascension Parish locals to follow, so that they can stay safe from the brain eating bacteria.
The most important thing that they need to know is that the water provided by the water system is safe to drink, because the amoeba does not pose any threat if it is ingested. The only risk situation that should be avoided at all times is getting water into the nose, since this is the only means of contamination.
Therefore, the CDC is informing people that they should be extremely careful when taking showers and baths and when washing their faces. Children should be supervised thoroughly until the parish is declared safe again, as they could easily get contaminated by accident. Furthermore, plastic inflatable pools should be avoided for the time being, because they create a very dangerous scenario for children.
Neti pots should be thoroughly washed and disinfected before use, and they should be filled with sterile saline solution or at least boiled and cooled water, so as to avoid contamination until the region is declared risk free.
All people who experience flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and fever and headaches are advised to go the hospital as soon as possible, because these are the initial signs of Naegleriasis. It is precisely because the symptoms are so vague and unspecific that the disease is so difficult to diagnose. Also, time is of the essence, because the disease progresses rapidly. Given the current situation, it is best to be tested and find out it was just a false alarm, rather than finding out about the contamination when it is too late.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become specifically neurological, including an altered mental state, hallucinations and even comas. The mortality associated with the disease is extremely high, because by the time it is diagnosed, the treatment has very little effect, if any.
It remains to be seen where else the brain eating bacteria has spread to, as the results of the tests conducted by the Louisiana DHH come in, so that an overview can be developed.
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