News

Water tests stepped up after boy dies from infection

Water tests stepped up after boy dies from infection

Photo: clipart.com

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Some Louisiana towns intensified testing of water supplies on Monday after a 4-year-old boy died from a rare brain-eating amoeba that authorities suspect he contracted while playing on a Slip-N-Slide toy in the backyard of a home.

“We are testing and retesting our water to make sure it has the proper amount of chlorine to prevent contamination,” said David Peralta, president of St. Bernard Parish, where the boy was visiting when he is believed to have become infected.

Local schools also remain on guard.

“Just to be cautious, we turned off the water fountains at the elementary and middle schools,” said Doris Voitier, superintendent of St. Bernard Public Schools.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in August that the amoeba Naegleria fowleri caused the early August death of the boy, a Mississippi resident who became mysteriously ill and died while visiting friends in St. Bernard Parish, which is southeast of New Orleans.

Tissue tests by the CDC later revealed the boy died from a form of encephalitis after the amoeba entered his body through his nose and attacked his brain.

Louisiana’s Office of Public Health investigated circumstances leading to the boy’s death and concluded that he may have become infected while playing on a Slip ‘N Slide water toy in the backyard of the home he was visiting.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on Friday confirmed the presence of the amoeba in four locations of the water system in St. Bernard Parish.

State epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, though the amoeba itself is not. Studies have shown that the amoeba exists “in very low numbers” in about 40 percent of water supplies in the developed world, he said.

He said the amoeba likely multiplied in the St. Bernard water system because the chlorine level in some locations fell below the 0.5 milligrams per liter standard by the CDC. Ratard said humans are infected through the nose and not from drinking.

From 2001 to 2010, 32 Naegleria fowleri infections were reported in the United States. Of those cases, 30 people were infected by contaminated recreational water and two by water from a geothermal drinking water supply, according to the CDC.

Peralta said that St. Bernard Parish is continuing to flush its water system and add chlorine to ensure that the water is safe for drinking and bathing.

While communities that lie near St. Bernard Parish have their own, separate water supplies, some are seeking assurances that their water is safe.

Recent Headlines

5 hours ago in Entertainment, Lifestyle

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: 26 freebies to help you celebrate this May

birthday

On your birthday you can have your (free) cake and eat it too!

2 days ago in Sports

The weekend sports schedule

penscaps16120076416963

Here’s a look at some of the sporting events taking place this weekend.

2 days ago in Sports

The best sports shots this week

goffdraft870850982276

A look at some of the biggest plays and best moments in sports this week.

2 days ago in National

Making headlines this week

kansasweatherAP

A look back at some of the biggest newsmakers this week and the headlines you may have missed.

2 days ago in Sports

Reigning NL batting champ banned 80 games for doping

marlinsdeeREUTERS

Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins was suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, Major League Baseball said.