Just days after the broadcast of the “Out of the Water” on ABC’s Australian Story, which told the family tragedy of Jodi and Laine Keough and the loss of their son, Lincoln Cash Keough to the lethal amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, the Western Australia Health Department issued the following Amoebic meningitis warning:

Naegleria fowleri Life Cycle/CDC
Naegleria fowleri Life Cycle/CDC

As the weather warms up all Western Australians are encouraged to take simple precautions to avoid the potentially fatal disease amoebic meningitis from waterborne Naegleria fowleri.

Naegleria fowleri is naturally occurring so can be found in any fresh water body or poorly treated water. It thrives in warm water temperatures, between 28 degrees and 40 degrees Celsius.

This disease occurs only if water containing active amoeba goes up the nose and then to the brain.

The risk of amoebic meningitis can be reduced by following these simple precautions:

  • Don’t allow water to go up your nose or a child’s nose and do not sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering or washing your face.
  • Don’t allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers because they may accidentally squirt water up their nose.
  • Don’t jump or dive into water – walk or lower yourself in.
  • Don’t dig or stir up sediment in waterholes, dams, lakes and rivers.
  • Don’t use tap water for nasal irrigation (external site) unless it has been further treated.
  • Swim in and play with safe, chlorinated water only. Stay out of dirty pools, waterholes, dams, lakes, rivers.
  • Correctly disinfect your swimming pool and spa water. Chlorine is the most effective way to continually disinfect water because it kills all stages of the amoeba. Tips for healthy swimming (external site) and swimming pool and spa (external site) information is available on the Healthy WA website (external site).
  • Keep wading pools clean by emptying, scrubbing and allowing them to dry in the sun after each use.
  • Swim in sea water or chlorinated pools rather than fresh water.