NEW ORLEANS -- The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is warning residents in St. Bernard Parish to take precautions after a child died from an illness contracted from a brain-eating amoeba.
According to the St. Bernard Parish president, investigators believe the child may have contracted the illness on a slip and slide.
Christina Stephens, the communication director for the DHH, spoke with Eyewitness News by phone Thursday night. You can listen to that interview above.
The DHH has confirmed that the parasite has not shown up during tests of the parish's water supply; however, out of "an abundance of caution," the parish is flushing its water system. Officials maintain that the water supply is safe.
"We are notifying the public today because we want people to know there are some simple precautions for people to take," Stephens said.
Stephens said St. Bernard Parish residents should avoid swimming in a swimming pool that hasn't been chlorinated.
"The CDC recommends that you avoid getting water up your nose if you are in an area that has been known to have the parasite," Stephens said.
You can't contract the illness by drinking contaminated water, Stephens said, because the acid in the stomach will kill the parasite. The danger comes from ingesting the water through the nose.
"If the parasite goes up your nose then it can get into your brain, and that's what causes the problem," she said.
Stephens called the parasite "very rare" and said it's usually found in tap and fresh water.
The DHH is not releasing the identity of the child to protect the family's privacy.
For information on preventative measures, please visit the CDC.