Brain Eating Amoeba Contaminate Whitewater System

Posted in: United States Water News
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Article courtesy of Samantha Finch | July 4th, 2016 | Parent Herald | Shared as educational material.

Photo Credit: Parent Herald

High levels of the brain-eating amoeba, named Naegleria fowleri, were found at a water park in North Carolina. The main suspect for the appearance of the dangerous organism, according to The Center for Disease and Prevention, is the city’s inadequate sanitation system. The organism has already claimed the life of 18-year-old Lauren Seitz. The CDC states that the amoeba causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), in which an infected brain tissue degrades to complete death. The amoeba enters the body only through nasal ingestion and after 18 days, death is possible. The two methods that were used to get rid of the amoeba have not worked effectively. Adding chlorine was ineffective as debris in the water ended up absorbing the additive. UV rays become deactivated as they pass through the surface of the water. Officials state that the National White Water Center (the area of contamination) is one of the systems that the United States doesn’t require regular pathogen testing for. Why? It seems as though the whitewater center is considered a river even though it was built with concrete channels that regurgitate millions of liters of water.

Fortunately, officials say the unregulated state of the water sources will change soon. Unfortunately, the reasons aren’t too sound. Experts indicate that as Summer gets closer, the system will be accumulating warm water, especially on hot days. This is an environment which the Naegleria fowleri amoeba prosper in.

Brian Walesa, director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois said water sports encourage the brain-eating amoeba. This is because the pathogen usually habitats the bottom of the water system’s floor. As such, people are more exposed to the pathogen when they make contact with sand at the bottom or if the swim too low. Read more about this dangerous pathogen here.

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