BATON ROUGE, LA (KSLA) - The Louisiana Department of Health says the Desoto Parish water system where a rare Naegleria fowleri amoeba was found in October has now been cleared of the potentially deadly organism.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the samples from Waterworks District No. 1 testing negative for the rare amoeba means increased chlorine levels in the system have brought it under control.
DeSoto Parish Waterworks District No. 1 was one of two water systems in Louisiana that tested positive for the rare amoeba in October.
Following a chlorine burn and a state mandate that required the parish to maintain a 1.0 milligram per liter free chlorine residual throughout the system for 60 days, DHH took two water samples from 10 locations along the system in early January.
Testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed this week that all 20 samples were negative for the rare ameba, which has killed three people in Louisiana since 2011.
DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said, "Our team has worked closely with the leaders from the water system to come up with a plan to protect the system's customers by controlling the ameba.. While the water was always safe to drink, these test results give us confidence that it is safe for all uses."
Assistant Secretary for Public Health JT Lane said, "We are encouraged by these test results, which show that maintaining a certain free chlorine or chloramine residual in water systems can control this ameba and protect families. This is why DHH issued an emergency rule last year that we believe will make the water that we drink, bathe and play in safer."
Out of an abundance of caution, the DHH says they will conduct additional sampling and testing in DeSoto parish later in the year as temperatures grow warmer, making water more inviting for the amoeba.
DHH still encourages people to take precautions, including using commercially distilled water or tap water that has been boiled and then cooled, when they are using a Neti pot for a sinus rinse.
Later this month, the DHH will collect water samples for testing from St. Bernard Parish's water system, which also had positive amoeba test results in 2013 and has also been under a DHH mandate to increase the level of chlorine in its system. The Department will send these samples for testing by the CDC and will announce the results of these tests when they are available.
Until then, the DHH recommends that St. Bernard parish residents continue to take precautions to avoid getting water deep inside their noses.
INFORMATION ABOUT NAEGLERIA FOWLERI IN LOUISIANA FROM THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPTIALS: