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Boy's Death Prompts Exhaustive Water Testing in Louisiana

Sep 19, 2013

Water testing is happening all over Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish after recent events confirmed that it may be contaminated with bacteria that could cause a rare and fatal brain infection.

Louisiana health officials have confirmed that a 4-year-old boy has died as the result of an infection of the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, Reuters reports. Authorities said that four water samples taken randomly in St. Bernard Parish tested positive for the amoeba’s presence.

The deceased boy is believed to have contracted the deadly brain infection – now referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” – while visiting a friend’s house in St. Bernard Parish. The boy, who himself lived in Mississippi, was playing on a Slip-n-Slide water toy when he likely acquired the infection through the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, Reuters reports.

An autopsy indicated that the child died from encephalitis, and that the amoeba likely entered through his nose while he was playing on the Slip-n-Slide, Reuters reports.

You’ll recall from our previous reports on Hurricane Katrina that St. Bernard Parish is located south of New Orleans and was heavily damaged in the storm.

Reacting to the confirmation that the amoeba Naegleria fowleri was present in the water samples taken from St. Bernard Parish and that a related infection caused the death of one child, the Parish President told Reuters that measures are being taken to identify more potential contamination and prevent it from spreading throughout the community.

Water testing is at an all-time high now in response to the latest developments. Water fountains in Parish schools have been shut off until testing is complete and the area is rid of the contamination. Officials told Reuters that chlorine is being added to the water supply in an attempt to kill the troublesome amoeba. The water system is also being flushed as the chlorine is added.

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