Safety tips for DeSoto Parish residents after 'brain eating' amoeba was found in the water supply

[image] DeSoto Waterworks District 1

DeSoto Parish Waterworks District No. 1 has started the process of flushing its system with additional chlorine to kill the amoeba.

DHH officials selected the DeSoto Parish Waterworks District No. 1 water system for additional testing because the area was the site of one of two 2011 Naegleria fowleri-related deaths in Louisiana. Following the confirmation in September that St. Bernard Parish's water system tested positive for the ameba, DHH officials tested the water in the DeSoto Parish Waterworks District No. 1 as a precautionary measure.

At the time of the 2011 deaths in DeSoto and St. Bernard parishes, officials could only confirm the presence of the ameba in the homes of the deceased, but not in the water systems. More advanced sampling technology is now available through the CDC. No known additional infections have occurred in DeSoto Parish, as incidences of infection are extremely rare. Exposure to Naegleria fowleri has historically occurred as a result of swimming or diving in warm freshwater lakes and rivers. An infection of Naegleria fowleri cannot occur by drinking water.

Free chlorine or chloramine residual at 0.5 milligram per liter or higher will control the ameba, provided the disinfectant is present at that level throughout the water supply system continually. The Waterworks District No. 1 in DeSoto Parish informed DHH late Tuesday that it will begin a free chlorine burn in its water system tomorrow morning to achieve a 1.0 milligram per liter free chlorine residual throughout the system. This chlorine burn will last for 60 days after the system reaches the required level.

As a result, residents served by DeSoto Parish Waterworks District No. 1 may notice a change in the smell and taste of the water throughout the chlorine burn. However, the water will remain safe to drink. The DeSoto Parish Waterworks District No. 1 is one of several community water systems in the parish and services 4,980 customers. If residents are uncertain as to what water system they are served by, they should review their most recent water statement.

 

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES FOR FAMILIES

According to the CDC, personal actions to reduce the risk of Naegleria fowleri infection should focus on limiting the amount of water going up a person's nose and lowering the chances that Naegleria fowleri may be in the water. Preventative measures recommended by the CDC include the following:

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 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 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,

Place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running. Do not top off by placing the hose in the body of the pool.

Residents should continue these precautions until extensive testing done after the chlorine burn no longer detects the ameba in the water system. Residents will be made aware when that occurs. For further information on preventative measures, please visit the CDC website here: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/prevention.html


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