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Hundreds turn out for DeSoto Parish public meeting on brain eating amoeba

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More than 200 people showed up at Salem Baptist Church in Stonewall to learn more about the amoeba that was found in DeSoto Parish Water District 1's system earlier Tuesday night. More than 200 people showed up at Salem Baptist Church in Stonewall to learn more about the amoeba that was found in DeSoto Parish Water District 1's system earlier Tuesday night.
STONEWALL, La. -

A deadly brain eating amoeba was the topic of a public meeting in DeSoto Parish Thursday night.

RELATED ARTICLE: Rare amoeba found in 1 DeSoto Parish water system

More than 200 people showed up at Salem Baptist Church in Stonewall to learn more about the amoeba that was found in DeSoto Parish Water District 1's system earlier Tuesday night.

"Glad to see such a turn out," said Dr. Jimmy Guidry to the crowd. "It's really something you don't want to have to tell people and share with people, but at the same time, there are questions you have to answer."

Guidry, the state health officer for DHH, was among a panel of 12 people willing to answer questions for a large crowd of concerned citizens. Questions like if the amoeba can affect animals.

"And it probably could infect dogs and cats and cows, but fairly often veterinarians will not diagnose it," responded, Dr. Raoult Ratard, the state epidemiologist.

Another resident asked: "A lot of people out here have well water. Can it be found in well water?"

"Water wells can be contaminated by amoebas as well as bacteria and other things," answered Jake Causey, DHH's chief engineer. "We certainly recommend private wells be tested for those things."

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

State officials also wanted to make clear how to plan clear out the system—increase the level of chlorine.

"We only found the amoeba where there was almost no chlorine or no chlorine," said Guidry. "So it makes sense if there's enough chlorine at .5 a liter, there shouldn't be an amoeba."

DeSoto Parish Waterworks District No. 1 started the process of flushing its system with additional chlorine to kill the amoeba. It performs a free chlorine burn in its water system 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.

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