The authorities have identified the presence of Naegleria fowleri, the brian eating amoeba in the water system in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Thus, locals are advised to take special precaution measures to keep face to this minute danger.
Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as the brain eating bacteria is a very curious parasite. It is a free living amoeba, that can usually be found in the soil and most importantly in still water basins. Normally, it is completely peaceful, but if given the chance to enter the nasal cavity of an animal, it becomes one of the deadliest disease agents ever seen.
This is why it has been described as an opportunistic parasite, because it does not make any effort whatsoever to infest its host, but upon reaching the right tissue, it will jump at the opportunity to explore. And so, it will ride along the nervous lines of the nose and make its way into the brain without needing to penetrate the skull.
When it reaches the brain, its intention is to set up camp and to settle there. Unfortunately for its host, this means that it will also be feeding on its brain, thus causing immense damage. Naegleriosis is most commonly manifested as a very grave encephalitis, due to the local inflammation that the damage causes, but most of the times, the doctors cannot diagnose it soon enough to get a chance to treat it.
Since it has no characteristic manifestations, it is extremely difficult to diagnose. And even if the amoeba is identified in due time, there is no guarantee that treatment will be effective, due to the fact that it is extremely aggressive and brain tissue is highly sensitive to the damage. Only an extremely low number of people have ever lived to tell the tale upon being infested with the amoeba.
There is one silver lining though; it is quite difficult to get contaminated with the parasite, because its only means of access into the brain is the nose. Therefore, the contaminated water that it lives in needs to get into your nose. This means that drinking Naegleria contaminated water is completely safe.
This is the most important aspect that St. Bernard Parish locals need to be aware of, until this matter is properly dealt with. The authorities have made an official anouncement that they will institute a 60-day-long cleanse to the local waterline, that is the water source for approximately 44,000 people.
Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issues a set of crucial guidelines that are meant to keep people safe from the vicious brain eating amoeba.
Firstly, it is of the utmost importance that people prevent water from getting into their noses when taking baths, showers and when they are washing their face and nose. Furthermore, the CDC advises that people use sterile saline solution or boiled and cooled water for their neti pot nose cleansing solutions.
Secondly, the CDC advises people to refrain from jumping into bathtubs and pools that have been filled with water from the public waterline. Plastic inflatable pool constitute a particular safety hazard, because they allow the water to stagnate. Thus, it is extremely important that these pools get drained immediately after pool time, and that they get properly cleaned and dried, so as to make sure that the parasite is killed.
Thirdly, water shouts or any facilities that make it difficult for people to prevent water from entering their noses should be avoided until the water system is declared Naegleria free.
Fourthly, swimming pools should be cleaned and dried regularly, and chlorine should be added to the water. In order to eliminate the risk of contamination, people are advised to refrain from jumping into the pool and to wear nose plugs while in.
Lastly, the CDC advises that special care should be awarded to children, and that playing with water hoses and sprinklers should be forbidden for the time being, because such behavior can easily lead to getting water into the noses.
By making sure to follow these guidelines, keeping safe from Naegleria fowleri should be quite successful. Hopefully, the authorities will soon declare St. Bernard Parish free of the brain eating amoeba.
Image Source: nationalgeographic