Is Hurricane Katrina Responsible for Brain-Eating Amoeba in Louisana’s Water Supply?

Picture: National Geographic (C)

Picture: National Geographic (C)

Almost a decade later, and we’re still seeing the impact of Hurricane Katrina. File this one under “Nightmare Fuel.” (By the way, the amoeba really does look like a scary clown face. Here’s where I found the image.)

Via National Geographic.

The deadly brain-eating amoeba that recently killed a four-year-old Louisiana boy may be linked to unsafe water conditions created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, experts say.

The boy, Drake Smith Jr., died from a rare but deadly swelling of the brain caused by Naegleria fowleri, a species of single-celled organism known as an amoeba.

The child was playing on a backyard Slip ‘n Slide in St. Bernard Parish, near New Orleans, and was apparently infected by amoebae present in the water in early August. About two days later, he was dead.

For N. fowleri to gain access to the brain, it must go up a person’s nose and climb the olfactory nerve. Simply drinking water that contains the amoeba is not enough to cause an infection, said Raoult Ratard, Louisiana’s state epidemiologist.

“[The boy] spent all day on the slide,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some water went up his nose.”

N. fowleri is commonly found in lakes and other freshwater systems, but is usually not considered a danger to swimming pools or municipal water systems because they are typically treated with chlorine or other types of disinfectants that kill the amoeba.

But St. Bernard Parish was devastated when Katrina struck in August 2005. “St. Bernard was under 15 feet of floodwater. Water pipes were broken, and the [water] pressure was zero,” said Jake Causey, chief engineer for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

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  • marshall

    Brain eating amoebas kill like 4 people a year. I think flouride is deadlier, it damages like 200 million brains a year.

    • Rex Vestri

      And thyroids too.
      Fluoride is evil.

  • Rex Vestri

    Brain-eating amoebas!

    Thanks Obama!

  • Earthstar

    The amoeba in the picture looks like a Juggalo.

  • BuzzCoastin

    > Brain-Eating Amoeba in Louisana

    the damned thing’s gonna starve
    it took 7 years to find a brain to eat
    howevee
    it did make snack outa an i from Louis(i)ana
    or was the snack Matt’s brain?
    arguah ahigc, hep meeeee ik gots mee btrain

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