Water tests stepped up after boy dies from infection

Water tests stepped up after boy dies from infection


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

in Sports

Bae leads an International team rally amid Mickelson mistake at Presidents Cup


Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson were assessed a one-hole penalty at No. 7 when Mickelson used a different model golf ball, ultimately costing the Americans the match.

in Sports

NYC jury acquits Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha in police fracas


A Manhattan jury found Sefolosha not guilty Friday of misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

in Sports

This weekend’s sports schedule


Here's a look at some of this weekend's big sporting events.

in Sports

This week’s best sports shots


Here's a look at some of the big moments and best plays this week.

in Entertainment

Cosby to be deposed in sexual abuse lawsuit


Bill Cosby was expected to testify under oath in a lawsuit brought by a woman accusing the veteran comedian of sexual abuse.

Bellingham Traffic