For the third time in a year, Louisiana residents are being cautioned to watch out for a deadly, brain-eating amoeba-like organism in the water supply in part of the state.
Residents in four towns in St John the Baptist Parish – about 12,500 people in total – are being advised to take special precautions when showering and when swimming in nearby lakes, streams and pools that have been filled with tap water.
The culprit of the water warning is a trophozoite called Naegleria fowleri, a type of warm-water-loving microorganism very closely related to an amoeba (it’s most often referred to as an amoeba in scientific literature).
If the organism is inhaled through the nose it can work its way into the brain. Once there, N fowleri quickly eats brain tissue and causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), an infection that with few exceptions kills its hosts within two weeks.