Brain-eating amoeba that thrives in warm conditions detected in Louisiana drinking water

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Public officials are in the process of eliminating Naegleria Fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba, from two drinking water supplies in Louisiana.

Naegleria Fowleri was detected during routine tests last week at a utility district in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, roughly 25 miles from Baton Rouge.

The water system serves roughly 1,800 throughout the rural town. Three other systems in the area were tested with negative results, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH).

While officials say the water is safe for drinking, residents are urged to use caution with the water, not letting it get into their nose. Humans are infected when water containing the amoeba travels through the nose and migrates to the brain, destroying the tissue.

"We want to emphasize that the water is completely safe to drink. The amoeba cannot survive your stomach acid and is harmless when consumed in this manner," the DHH said in a release posted on their Facebook page last week.

A 60-day free chlorine burn will be completed to eliminate the amoeba, officials said. According to the DHH, the chlorine burn will help reduce biofilm, or organic buildup, throughout the water system and will kill the amoeba.

The amoeba is commonly found in in warm freshwater such as lakes, ponds and hot springs. The DHH stated that water sites are routinely tested as temperatures rise during the summer months.

Temperatures in the New Orleans area have been running about 3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal the past three weeks, AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis said. Normal highs hit in the low 90s for this time of year.

The Ascension Parish site is the second site to test positive for the amoeba within the last few weeks.

A site at St. Bernard Parish, roughly 15 miles from New Orleans, is where the amoeba was detected July 22. A chlorine burn is underway to eliminate the deadly amoeba.

"We are taking precautionary measures that DHH approves of and would ask our residents to follow the rules that DHH has provided," Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said.

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