Monday, July 03, 2017- ABC 7 Chicago News reported that Louisiana health officials confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as the brain-eating amoeba, in Ouachita Parish’s North Monroe water system and Terrebonne Parish’s Schriever water system in Louisiana during routine testing. Officials reassured residents that drinking tap water is still safe and that taking precautions in pools and showers can reduce their risk of infection.

The Louisiana Department of Health said it notified public health officials and the administrators of the water systems on Thursday June 29, 2017. The health department urged residents to avoid getting water in their noses, which is how the organism can infect the brain. The department also advised the public to run baths, shower taps and hoses for at least five minutes before use to flush the pipes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Naegleria fowleri can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection that is almost always fatal. People are particularly at risk for contracting PAM if the amoebas enter through the nose, which can happen when people swim or dive in freshwater contaminated with Naegleria fowleri. In the early stages of PAM, symptoms may be similar to those of bacterial meningitis: a severe headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Late-stage symptoms include seizures, hallucinations and coma.The Louisiana Department of Health has tested for Naegleria fowleri since 2013, with officials sampling public drinking water systems each summer when temperatures rise. Officials have collected 540 samples to test for this amoeba since 2013. The health department ordered the water systems to switch to the free chlorine disinfection method for 60 days to ensure that any remaining amoebas in the systems are eliminated.

Unfortunately switching to free chlorine is only a bandaid on a larger problem that is not going away any time soon.

Removing sediment from the interior floor of the tank is the only way you can be sure to get rid of this type of contaminant. Many think a “Chlorine Burn” is the answer. Wrong. The “Burn” only works if the tank is clean.

If there is sediment on the floor of the contaminated tank the intruder will still be there under the sediment and grow again after the additional chlorine is gone. The AWWA recommends tanks be cleaned every 3 to 5 years. Still some are never cleaned.

Photo #3 Potable Water Tank Cleaning with Diver (c) Ron Perrin.com 

Why? How much of a reason do you need?

Keeping your tanks clean may prevent you from collecting a wide range of bacteria, protozoa, viruses and even amoebas like this. These microbes use the sediment on the floor of a dirty tank as a habitat to grow, deplete your chlorine reserves and become a real threat to public health.

All public water systems should clean all storage tanks and towers at least every five years. A potable water dive crew is one way to remove the sediment with minimal water loss and usually no disruption in service. After the sediment has been removed chemical treatments are many times more effective. For more information on how potable water divers can keep your drinking water clean and safe see: www.tankdiver.us

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Photos: 

#1 File Photo Potable Water Tank Cleaning with Diver (c) Ron Perrin.com 

#2 CDC- Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba”)

#3  File Photo Potable Water Diver (c) Ron Perrin.com 

File Photo Potable Water Tank Cleaning with Diver (c) Ron Perrin.com