Thursday, 11 July 2019

A deadly brain-eating amoeba in Louisiana's drinking water and a toxic blue-green algae in the area is a concern as storm Barry approaches


A potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba has been detected in a Louisiana neighbourhood's drinking water - the third time the terrifying discovery has been made in the same parish since 2015, reports said.
Naegleria fowleri, which causes fatal brain swelling and tissue destruction, was found over the weekend in Terrebonne Parish, deep in the Louisiana bayou about an hour south of New Orleans, WWL-TV reported.
"It kinda freaks me out because this is my home, I can't do what I usually do," Lindsey Dupre told WWL-TV.
"I want to know I'm secure rather than freak out over an amoeba."
All freshwater sources in the parish have been affected, including drinking water, the water in the bayous and pools, plus water used for showers and baths.
The water is "perfectly safe to drink," claimed Michael Sobert from Consolidated Waterworks, "it's just not safe to get up your nose."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said infection usually occurs when people go swimming in areas where the amoeba is present or when drinking water enters the nose - it can't be contracted simply from drinking water contaminated with the organism.
Officials have switched from using chloramine to free chlorine, which is more effective at killing off the amoebas, but it's a temporary fix for a problem exacerbated by the area's scorching late spring temperatures, which allow the simple-celled organism to flourish.
The parish is looking for a permanent solution and is researching the issue to have a better plan in place for next year.
"It's a way of life, I'm sorry to say that," Sobert said.
"I said it four years ago, as we continue to learn more and more about it, the hope is we can get something that will work."
Last June, Terrebonne Parish's water system tested positive for the amoeba in a fire hydrant, and it was also discovered in 2015.
In the meantime, the Louisiana Department of Health advises residents to avoid letting the water go up to their nose during showers, prohibit children from being unsupervised while playing with hoses and sprinklers, and do not submerge their head in the bathtub.

Meanwhile, flash flooding from heavy rains battered New Orleans on Wednesday, and the worst might be yet to come.
Meteorologists are predicting that the Mississippi River could rise up to about 19 to 20 feet by the weekend, which is the height of the city's levees.
The entire Gulf Coast meanwhile braced for major thunderstorms, tropical storms and possibly a hurricane over the next couple of days.
In New Orleans, more than 6 inches of rain fell on the Big Easy between 7:41 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, as residents and visitors to the popular tourist city, fled for cover or higher ground.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning at 7:41 a.m. and upgraded that to a flash flood emergency at 9:02 a.m., acknowledging that "flash flooding is already occurring with numerous streets and underpasses severely flooded."
"Even though I grew up with Midwestern tornadoes and summer storms, this was next level in terms of the absolute deluge of water coming down so fast," California high school teacher Ellen Austin, in town for a convention, told NBC affiliate WDSU.
"The water just came up in the streets in what felt like no time at all. And we have been cut off, with doors blocked with towels to keep water out, since this morning.
It's been a bit surreal."
According to the National Weather Service, the surge could raise the river to 19 feet, only one foot below the height of the New Orleans levee, and the highest the river has been in New Orleans in 70 years.
The prediction was subject to change, becoming more precise as the storm got closer to shore. Meteorologists warned of a chance that the storm could linger in the Gulf, strengthening over warm waters and landing sometime this weekend.
The Gulf of Mexico is warmer than usual right now, with temperatures typical for August, which was feeding the cluster of storms.
Officials also said Wednesday would be one of the hottest days of the summer for Gulf Coast states, with temperatures expected to go above 105 degrees by the afternoon.

Meteorologist Kait Parker says the blue-green algae problem in the Gulf of Mexico might be helped in the short term by the tropical system moving in the Gulf, but in the long run, it could be much worse. The choppy waters of the tropical storm will help disperse the blue-green algae but...the rainfall forecast causing fresh-water flooding likely means the toxic bloom is likely to return after the tropical storm has passed.
Nutrients churned up on the bottom of the Mississippi which cause the blooms can cause rashes, headaches and breathing problems but more importantly are the damage to the liver and nervous system when humans are exposed.

The danger of toxic green sea algae naturally found on the Breton coast, France has come into renewed question after an 18-year-old oyster farmer died suddenly on a beach.
He is suspected to have died from inhalation of toxic gases released by the green algae in the surrounding area.
The man had previously appeared to be in good health."
Local environmental associations have recently seen a sharp increase in the proliferation of green algae in the area.
The groups Sauvegarde du Tregor and Halte aux Marees Vertes have both suggested that "intoxication from hydrogen sulfide" - a potentially-fatal gas emitted by algae as it decomposes - may have caused the man's death.
This is not the first death that has been linked to green algae, and fears over the build-up of the organisms in Brittany have risen in recent years.

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