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ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. - Residents in St. Bernard Parish should be cautious when it comes to the parish's water supply, according to health officials, after tests confirm that a brain eating amoeba that killed a 4-year-old boy last month is in the parish's water system.

Health officials say the water in St. Bernard Parish is drinkable, the problem is ingesting it through the nose, but tests show this amoeba is in several locations in the Parish's water system.

St. Bernard Parish Officials believe the 4-year-old boy died from encephalitis after contracting the amoeba from a slip and slide.

Last week, testing began on the water supply, now the Center for Disease Control is saying that four locations in St. Bernard Parish's water system, all in Arabi and Violet, tested positive for the amoeba.

Officials urge residents to take precautionary measures, and to remember infection from this amoeba is extremely rare.

The amoeba has been linked to three deaths traced to water in Louisiana since 2011.

Officials say chlorine kills this specific amoeba, and that the parish is going to keep flushing chlorine into the water system until it reaches the recommended levels however, that process will take several weeks.

The state offered the following health recommendations:

DO NOT:

  • DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.
  • DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools) - walk or lower yourself in.
  • DO NOT allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their nose. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water going up the nose.
  • DO NOT top off by placing the hose in the body of the pool.

DO:

  • DO run bath and shower taps and hoses for 5 minutes before use to flush out the pipes. This is most important the first time you use the tap after the water utility raises the disinfectant level.
  • DO keep small hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.
  • DO use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.
  • DO place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running.
  • DO keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection means:
  • Pools: free chlorine at 1-3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2-7.8; Hot tubs/spas: free chlorine 2-4 parts per million (ppm) or free bromine 4-6 ppm and pH 7.2-7.8; If you need to top off the water in your swimming pool with tap water,

Residents should continue these precautions until extensive testing no longer detects the amoeba in the water system. Residents will be made aware when that occurs.

For information on preventative measures, click here.

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