DHH, Morrell Push Chlorine to Combat Brain Eating Amoeba

NOLA Defender

With the brain-eating amoeba now spreading to a second parish, the state Department of Health and Hospitals and a New Orleans pol are pushing to increase chlorine in water across the state. On Wednesday, DHH called for higher chlorine leves in parishes across the state, and state Senator J.P. Morrell wrote a letter to the gov saying that more permanent action was necessary.

The brain-eating amoeba, known in scientific parlance as nagleria fowleri, was first detected in St. Bernard Parish following the death of a four-year-old child after he contracted it on a slip-and-slide. A precautionary test in DeSoto Parish this week also registered amoeba-positive, spurring more cause for concern. The amoeba is contracted through the nose.

“There seems to be no singular variable to explain the distance of the deadly in these two disparate environments,” Morrell wrote to Jindal.

Nevertheless, officials maintain that they can win fight the amoeba with chlorine. DeSoto Parish is currently in the midst of a 60-day “chlorine burn” to flush its water system out. The state Department of Health and Hospitals said they will require every water system in the state to increase chlorine levels to 0.5 milligrams per liter. That exceeds federal standards, but the state it’s necessary to deal with the amoeba threat.

“If systems do not meet the 0.5 threshold, the Department will require it,” DHH wrote.

In his Wednesday letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal, Morrell asks Jindal to immediately test every water system in the state for the amoeba, require the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to up chlorine levels in every parish water system and increase public information efforts in areas where the amoeba has been detected.

Morrell adds that he intends to bring a bill before the legislative session that would impose a premanent increase in chloride levels.