Just days after the dangerous free-living amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, was detected in the St.Bernard Parish Water System, a second parish is reporting the presence of the “brain-eating amoeba” in the water system.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) confirmed the presence of the Naegleria fowleri ameba in the Ascension Consolidated Utility District 1 at the site 9295 Brou Road. The water system, which serves approximately 1,800 residents in a small community north of Donaldsonville in Ascension Parish, was tested by DHH as part of the State’s new public drinking water surveillance program.
The Department asked the water system to conduct a 60-day chlorine burn to ensure that any remaining amoeba in the system are eliminated. Parish officials confirmed that the system would conduct the burn out of an abundance of caution.
The water system was not in compliance with the requirements for chloramine disinfectant levels set forth by the 2013 by emergency rule and additional requirements in 2014 by the Louisiana Legislature at the location where the sample tested positive for the amoeba. Three other sites on the system tested negative for the ameba, but did meet the requirement for disinfectant.
Tap water in from the Ascension Consolidated Utility District 1 is safe for residents to drink, but the Department urges residents to avoid getting water in their noses. Naegleria fowleri is an ameba that occurs naturally in freshwater.
As Naegleria fowleri infections are extremely rare, health officials say testing for this amoeba in public drinking water is still relatively new and evolving.