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Pestilence in the Water in Louisanna USA

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Deadly brain amoeba infects Louisiana drinking water


Deadly brain amoeba infects US tap water for the first time


The CDC says it's found Naegleria fowleri, an almost always deadly amoeba, in a U.S. drinking water supply for the first time.

A deadly brain amoeba that’s killed two boys this year has been found in a U.S. drinking water supply system for the first time, officials said Monday -- in a New Orleans-area system.  The Naegleria fowleri parasite killed a 4-year-old Mississippi boy who likely got it playing on a back yard Slip 'N Slide, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say. Tests show it’s present throughout the water supply system in St. Bernard Parish, directly southeast of New Orleans.


“We have never seen Naegleria colonizing a treated water supply before,” said Dr. Michael Beach, head of water safety for the CDC. “From a U.S. perspective this is a unique situation.”  N. fowleri is a heat-loving amoeba that’s usually harmless, unless it gets up someone’s nose. It’s not entirely clear how or why, but in rare instances it can attach to one of the nerves that takes smell signals to the brain. There, the amoeba reproduces and the brain swelling and infection that follows is almost always deadly.


It killed a Miami-area boy last month -- 12-year-old Zachary Reyna -- and a 12-year-old Arkansas girl, Kali Hardig, is recovering slowly after an unusual experimental treatment.  N. fowleri is usually found in warm, fresh waters all over the world. It’s been seen in hot springs and swimming holes, freshwater lakes and even in neti pots used to clean out sinuses. Incomplete disinfection probably allowed it to thrive in St. Bernard, which has its own independent water system, Beach says.


“The key to this is understanding that this amoeba is kind of a heat-loving bug,” Beach said in a telephone interview. “If water temperatures start going up, you really need to be extremely careful about maintaining the disinfectant. The farther you go from a plant, the more likely you are for the disinfectant levels to get low.”  That’s what apparently happened in St. Bernard, which takes water from the Mississippi River and cleans it up for people to use. “We want all communities … checking the peripheries of their water distribution system,” Beach says.


N. fowleri has only been reported in about 130 people in the U.S. since 1962, making it extremely rare. Kali Hardig is only the third person known to have survived infection. It was formally identified in 1965, in Australia, where it did contaminate drinking water systems for a while, says Beach.  “In Australia, it was basically water being pumped from rivers and overland,” he says. The water got warm over long distances across the desert, and the amoeba thrived. Three children died after being immersed in baths and wading pools. Better disinfection has meant no cases since 1981, Australian health officials say.


Lousiana health department spokesman Ken Pastorick says officials are flushing out and decontaminating the St. Bernard Parish system, a process that may take several weeks.  “They have shocked the water, so to speak,” Pastorick said. “What has caused the problem here is low chlorination.” Pastorick says other Louisiana water systems are safe.

Beach says it’s not necessary to test water systems for the amoeba. Proper chlorination should always take care of it, he says.


And he stresses that water is safe to drink and bathe in even if it’s contaminated. Stomach acid appears to kill the amoeba, and people can protect themselves by not snorting water up their noses, or not allowing it to be forced up the nose.  St. Bernard water customers are being cautioned not to fill kiddie pools with tap water, or to use other water toys such as the sliding game that the 4-year-old boy who died was playing on. Topping up swimming pools with hoses is a bad, idea, too, unless the water first goes through the disinfection system.

“The critical piece is kids in the water,” Pastorick says.


NBC News




A first time ever that man's drinking water from tap can kill you.  Friends please be very careful.  I don't even drink my tap water.   I boil it first, use it for cooking something.   Pestilences getting out of hand!   Friends in New Orleans, PLEASE be careful, we want you alive to serve Jehovah's spiritual ship). 

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More on the above from NBC News, dated September 17, 2013:


Deadly brain amoeba in tap water may be tied to Katrina.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is the first time the deadly parasite has ever been discovered in a treated water supply system. It could take weeks before the system is completely clear. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.


School officials in an area near New Orleans have shut off water fountains and stocked up on hand sanitizer this week after a brain-eating amoeba killed a 4-year-old boy and was found thriving in the local tap water system.   Water officials say they are “shocking” the St. Bernard Parish system with chlorine to try to kill off the parasite and get the water back up to a safe standard. And while health experts say the water is perfectly safe to drink, some school officials are taking no chances. They’ve shut off water fountains until they are certain.


Dr. Raoult Ratard, the Louisiana state epidemiologist, says the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 may ultimately be to blame. Low-lying St. Bernard Parish, where the boy who died was infected while playing on a Slip ‘N Slide, was badly hit by the flooding that Katrina caused.

“After Katrina, it almost completely depopulated,” Ratard told NBC News. “You have a lot of vacant lots and a lot of parts of the system where water is sitting there under the sun and not circulating.”


That, says Ratard, provided a perfect opportunity for the amoeba to multiply. Without enough chlorine to kill them, they can spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that it had found Naegleria fowleri in St. Bernard’s water supply – the first time it’s ever been found in U.S. tap water. The amoeba likes hot water and thrives in hot springs, warm lakes and rivers.  Very, very rarely it can get up a person’s nose. If it gets in far enough – driven in, perhaps, when a child dives into a pond – it can attach itself to the olfactory nerve, which takes it into the brain. The multiplying amoebas eat blood cells and nerve cells and cause encephalitis. Only three out of the 130 people known to have been affected in the United States have ever survived, including a 12-year-old Arkansas girl, Kali Hardig, who is still recovering.


Chlorine kills it, but evidently some of the part of St. Bernard’s water system farthest away from the water treatment plan ran low on the chemical. CDC’s top water safety expert, Dr. Michael Beach, says that’s why it is important for officials to constantly monitor chlorine levels and make sure they are effective right to the end of the line of any water system.


Doris Voitier, superintendent of St. Bernard Parish Public School District, says the district shut down a second grade swim program briefly out of an abundance of caution to ensure that chlorine levels were sufficient. “The swim team is back in the pool. The swim program will be reinstituted within the next few days – hopefully by week’s end,” she told NBC News.


There’s no risk from drinking water that’s full of Naegleria, says Beach. Stomach acid kills it. And properly chlorinated pools are safe. The only risk is in the rare cases when it gets up the nose.  “As long as you know the top of your nose and where is the top of your nose, and where is the bottom of your nose, you will be all right,” says Ratard. There has been no increase in stomach infections in the region, he said, so other germs do not appear to be multiplying in the absence of enough chlorine.


“Drinking is always safe but if the water goes up your nose all the way to the ceiling of the nose then the amoeba can make their way to a little piece of bone between the top of the nose and the base of the brain. You have a small plate of bone with a bunch of holes inside,” Ratard says.

“The olfactory nerve sends a bunch of roots from the brain through the holes in the nose and that is how you smell.” The amoeba uses these nerve roots like a highway to the brain.


Low-lying St. Bernard Parish was almost completely devastated when Katrina hit in August 2009. Local officials have estimated that 80 percent of the structures in the parish were destroyed in the flooding, and the population plummeted from 67,000 to 8,000. It’s back up to about 35,000 now, according to the latest census, but state health officials say that still leaves a lot of empty lots, and reduced demand for water. That, in turn, means a lot of water sitting in pipes for longer times.


“Even if you have been away for a time, when people go away in summer to somewhere else where it is cooler, they should open their faucets and flush out any water that has been sitting there in the pipes,” Ratard advises.   CDC officials said they were not sure Katrina was to blame. “We're not aware of any linkage with Katrina,” Beach told NBC News.  But his advice is the same – people will be safe if they avoid having water go up their noses. People who rinse out their sinuses, as with neti pots or in some ritual ablutions, should use boiled water.   Parents who want to take extra care can add a few drops of chlorine bleach to bathwater or to kiddie pools to make the water safe, Ratard says. To be extra safe, they can make sure kids don’t put their heads under the water.


“The risk is extremely small,” Ratard said. “Some people will accept risk. Some people don’t want any risk.”  New Orleans tourism officials were concerned about the news coverage of the incident.  “This tragedy occurred in St. Bernard Parish, which maintains a totally separate water system from the City of New Orleans and Orleans Parish," a New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson said in a statement.

"St. Bernard Parish water officials have taken precautions to cleanse their parish water supply for drinking water, out of an abundance of caution. This does not affect the water supply in Orleans Parish, where visitors come to experience the French Quarter, Garden District, Downtown, Uptown, Warehouse/Arts District, the Morial Convention Center and other popular tourist areas of New Orleans.”

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