Water sample in southern Bossier City tests positive for brain-eating amoeba


From the City of Bossier City:

The City of Bossier City was notified this afternoon by the Department of Health and Hospitals that one of three water samples taken by the DHH at sites in the southern part of the city tested positive for the presence of Naegleria fowleri, also known as brain-eating amoeba. Bossier City’s Utilities Department is currently conducting a free chlorine flush of its entire water distribution system. The flush will eliminate the amoeba. The flush was originally scheduled for the first quarter of 2019 as part of routine maintenance. The flush began today. The process is expected to last for about 60 days.

Information on Naegleria fowlerif from the Department of Health and Hospitals

What is Naegleria fowleri?

Exposure to the ameba Naegleria fowleri typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, Naegleria fowleri infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated tap water less than 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit) enters the nose when people submerge their heads or when people irrigate their sinuses with devices such as a neti pot. People cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking water.

Naegleria fowleri causes the disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis.
Initial symptoms of PAM start one to seven days after infection. The initial symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within one to 12 days.

Precautionary Measures for Families

According to the CDC, personal actions to reduce the risk of Naegleria fowleri infection should focus on limiting the amount of water going up a person’s nose and lowering the chances that Naegleria fowleri may be in the water.

Preventative measures recommended by the CDC include the following:

DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.

DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools). Walk or lower yourself in instead.

DO NOT allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their nose. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water going up the nose.

DO run bath and shower taps and hoses for five minutes before use to flush out the pipes. This is most important the first time you use the tap after the water utility raises the disinfectant level.

DO keep small hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and drying them after each use.

DO use only boiled and cooled, distilled or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.
If you need to manually top off the water in your swimming pool with tap water, follow the guidance below.

DO ensure that the filter is running and top off your pool by adding water directly* into the skimmer box.

DO NOT top off your pool by submerging the hose in the body of the pool.
*NOTE: The hose should not be submerged into the skimmer box or pool water. Hold the end of your hose in the air at least two inches above the flood-level rim of the skimmer box. This can be accomplished by securing the hose to a heavy object such as a chair or cinder block above the skimmer and ensuring the hose will run into the skimmer box without the hose being submerged.

DO keep your swimming pool or hot tub adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection standards are listed below.

For pools, keep pH levels from 7.2 to 7.8. If you are using cyanuric acid-free chlorine, use between two and 10 parts per million. If you are not using cyanuric acid-free chlorine, keep chlorine levels at one to three parts per million.

For hot tubs and spas, keep pH levels from 7.2 to 7.8, and keep either free chlorine levels from two to four parts per million or free bromine levels from four to six parts per million.

Information on the Chlorine Flush from the City of Bossier City

Currently, Bossier City uses chloramines for disinfection of the drinking water. Chloramines are created by combining chlorine and ammonia. During a free chlorine flush, the disinfection process is changed from chloramines to free chlorine. Free chlorine is a stronger and faster-acting disinfectant. Bossier City will be using this disinfection method.

Residents may notice open fire hydrants throughout the city to allow flushing of the system to help remove sediment from the pipes and distribute the change in disinfectant. Customers may also see overflowing water storage towers to further aid in the flushing process.

How will the free chlorine flush affect the water in my home or business?

During this temporary change there may be some discoloration or cloudiness in the water and customers may experience a chlorine odor or taste. Running the water through the tap until it clears will lessen any unpleasant odor or taste. Minor pressure fluctuations and small air pockets may also occur in some lines.

The water is safe to drink throughout this process. Any odor or color issues are a nuisance only and will subside as the flushing process is completed. Customers who use tap water for kidney dialysis at home should consult their doctor to advise them if any changes are necessary in their residual disinfectant neutralization procedures. Discoloration in laundry is also possible during this time. Cleaning additives are available at local stores to help prevent or remove any discoloration that may occur. Customers utilizing the water for aquariums should monitor both free and combined chlorine residuals.

During normal business hours, residents may call (318) 741-8466 with any questions concerning the free chlorine flush. After regular business hours, please contact (318) 741-8371.

The Bossier City Utilities Department appreciates the patience and understanding of its residents as it works to further improve the quality of the water for all customers.