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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

ST. BERNARDPARISH, La. -- Parish officials urged people in St. Bernard to take precautions with the parish water supply. The health advisory comes after a four-year-old boy came in contact with a rare amoeba while playing on a slip and slide in the Violet area and later died.

Friday, St. Bernard President Dave Peralta took a sip of tap water to show residents the water is safe to drink. He says people need to take certain precautions around water.

'I would not allow unsupervised use of sprinklers or hoses or slip and slides by children,' said Peralta.

Testing showed the amoeba was present in the water at the home the boy was visiting in Violet.

Peralta confirms the same deadly micro-organism has now been detected at testing sites in Violet and Arabi.

'Two sites from fire hydrants came up with the presence and two sites at water bibs, which is the water facets at people houses,' said Peralta.

St. Bernard officials say they weren't notified about the amoeba problem until two weeks after the boy died.

Louisiana state epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard says it took time to determine what killed the boy and testing to identify the amoeba had to be done at the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta.

'A child died and nobody knew why,' said Ratard. 'They look at all kind of viruses and everything and the answer came that this was due to the amoeba.'

Inspectors found low chlorine levels in the water where the amoebas were present.

'If there is not enough chlorine, the amoeba will survive,' said Ratard. 'If put high enough chlorination, the chances of that (amoeba) surviving are lower.'

St. Bernard is now flushing its water system and adding higher amounts of chlorine to kill the amoeba. Surrounding parishes including Plaquemines, St. Charles and Jefferson have increased water testing as a precaution.

'We are monitoring it closely, but we don't anticipate any problem,' said Jefferson Parish Public Works Director Kazem Alikhani.

Orleans Parish released this statement: 'The Sewerage and Water Board is constantly monitoring the status of New Orleans' water supply. New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish have completely separate potable water systems and there is no cause for concern for New Orleans residents.'

The United States has only recorded 31 infections from this type of amoeba over the past 10 years. That includes two in Louisiana in 2011,one in St. Bernard and the other in Desoto Parish.

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