St. Bernard Parish locals are terrified, as they have received some very bad news this week. It seems that water in their parish has tested positive for Naegleria fowleri, the infamous brain eating amoeba. And so, they are are purchasing large amounts of bottled water and rethinking their summertime activities that involve water.
Despite the fact that Naegleria flowleri is an extremely aggressive parasite, it is of the utmost importance that people understand the exact conditions in which contamination occurs, because there are a few simple steps that can keep people carefree and safe from the dreadful disease.
In order to infest its host, the brain eating amoeba needs to get up the nose of the host. There is no other way in which it could enter the body. This is an extremely valuable piece of information, because people need to know that the water from the public waterway is safe to drink. Therefore, there is no need for them to buy bottled water in order to stay safe.
It is only by understanding the life cycle of this parasite, that people can grasp the extent of the danger and the best way to steer clear from high risk situations.
N. fowleri is found in warm still water and in the soil, and it is a free-living amoeba. It is regarded as an opportunistic parasite because it only contaminates hosts in extraordinary situations, when it happens to be introduced in the nasal cavity of an animal. From the nose, it travels to the brain, where it goes rampant and causes extensive damage.
Naegleriasis is a very rare disease and there are extremely few cases every year. In the first stage of the disease, the symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fever and very strong headaches that focus on the frontal region, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If St. Bernanrd Parish locals exhibit these symptoms, they are advised to go to the nearest hospital to get tested for Naegleriasis. At this stage, the symptoms are extremely vague and therefore a diagnosis is extremely difficult to be elaborated, based on the symptoms alone. In the second stage of the disease, the symptoms are mostly neurological and include stiff neck, altered mental status, hallucinations, seizures and coma.
The best course of action though is to implement a series of simple measures, that can eliminate the danger of getting contaminated. The CDC has released a list of these measures, so that the St. Bernard Parish locals know exactly what they have to do.
At the core of these preventative measures lies the simple rule of making sure that water from the public water system does not get inside the nose. This means that certain high risk scenarios need to be avoided at all cost. Fistly, when they wash their face and when they take baths, people need to make sure that water does not into their noses.
The best possible way of making sure that absolutely no water makes its way up the nose is to wear nose plugs.While the measure seems a little bit far fetched, it is important that it is considered especially by people who are very scared of getting contaminated, as this could help them sleep at night.
Secondly, nose cleansing solutions are best made with water that was previously boiled. An even better option would be to use saline solution from the drug store, because inserting the neti pot in the nose and squirting the solution inside constitutes textbook risky behavior. By boiling the water or using sterile solutions, this risk is excluded. Furthermore, the neti pots should not be washed with tap water after they are used, but with the same boiled water or sterile saline solution.
Children need to be permanently supervised and certain pass time activities need to be excluded from their schedule completely. Summer favorites such a sprinklers, water hoses and plastic swimming pools are best to be postponed until the parish is declared safe from the brain eating amoeba.
Also, people should only go swimming in authorized swimming pools, that have been properly disinfected and make sure to use chlorine solutions to disinfect their own pools if they have them. They are advised to use “free chlorine at 1 to 3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2 to 7.8″, according to the CDC.
The authorities will treat the water with chlorine solutions for a period of 60 days, so as to eliminate the risk. Also, the President of St. Bernard Parish has announced that they have received funding for repairing the local pipeline, as they believe that the likeliest cause for this recent contamination was a water leak.
St. Bernard Parish locals need to remain calm and be sure to take into account the rules that were issued by the CDC and follow them as best as possible, in order to stay safe from the vicious brain eating amoeba.
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