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Thread: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

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    To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Brain-eating amoebas have killed three people so far this summer. The victims include a 9-year-old Virginia boy and a 16-year-old Florida girl; both apparently became infected while swimming in warm, stagnant water. That makes the typical summer health warnings about swimmer's ear and sunburn seem mundane by comparison.

    The bug crawls into the brain through the nose and causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a disease of the central nervous system that is almost always fatal. To find out just how much of a risk is posed by the local swimming hole, Shots dialed up William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert who heads the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School. Here's an edited version of the conversation.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/08 ... c=fb&cc=fp
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    It killed a healthy kid here from using water from the shower in a netttipot to clean his sinuses. They found it in the water heater and the shower head in the home. I know this family well they are devastated. They say it is extremely rare to find it in clean water but I guess it can happen. Here is a local story with video.

    http://www.wwltv.com/news/health/Doctor ... 43523.html
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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Yep, been hearing about this. I was just in LA too....down in the swamp water to boot.
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    As noted in this post, the [i]Naegleria fowleri[/url] cyst is slowly killed by chlorine. At the active chlorine levels with an FC that is around 10% of the CYA level, it takes about 7 hours for a 99.9% kill (about 50% killed every 45 minutes). The cysts do not reproduce outside the body, however, and any free amoeba not in a cyst would get killed much more quickly. So in practice, you don't find this in chlorinated water.

    It's strange to have found this in that one home's water heater and shower head. I wonder if they are using monochloramine (chloramination) instead of hypochlorous acid (chlorine) and that this allowed for some contaminated water to not get disinfected in the distribution system. The St. Bernard Parish Water Quality Reports don't indicate the type of disinfection used.
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    As noted in this post, the [i]Naegleria fowleri[/url] cyst is slowly killed by chlorine. At the active chlorine levels with an FC that is around 10% of the CYA level, it takes about 7 hours for a 99.9% kill (about 50% killed every 45 minutes). The cysts do not reproduce outside the body, however, and any free amoeba not in a cyst would get killed much more quickly. So in practice, you don't find this in chlorinated water.

    It's strange to have found this in that one home's water heater and shower head. I wonder if they are using monochloramine (chloramination) instead of hypochlorous acid (chlorine) and that this allowed for some contaminated water to not get disinfected in the distribution system. The St. Bernard Parish Water Quality Reports don't indicate the type of disinfection used.
    Chem Geek. For us dummies, Would this basically br the question donthey use chlorine or chloramines? If not tell me how to phrase the question in a manner I can't screw up and I'll get than answer for you. I want to say a few years Pre-Katrina they switched over from just chlorine to something else that was supposed to be cheaper and added a tank out front the plant to hold a new chemical and I want to say it was an ammonia tank it that makes any sense. But I will look the next time i pass. Like I say I will ask the question for you if you phrase it for me.

    I think I need to ask anyway because this community was ground zero for Hurricane Katrina. The population was about 67k, 40k buildings with 29k being homes. Every home but 3 was flooded, and one of those 3 had the entire third floor blown off. A couple of commercial buildings were spared and every government building was seriously damaged so they may not be doing things the same as pre Katrina.
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    I was thinking that this town was under 10 feet or so of floodwater, and with that, many of the so-called clean water containment tanks would have been contamination targets. I have no idea how long water may sit in a water heater, or what their usage pattern is, but after a flood like that, I think that everything should be drained. I would have also thought that the local utility would have elevated the sanitizer level for some period to try to shake out hidden spots like that.
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Hadn't heard about it N. fowleri being anywhere other than in stagnant, oxygen poor water located outdoors. The neti pot infection is very ususual.

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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    In Florida, everyone has grown up with warnings about brain-eating-amoeba. It's part of the "don't swim in lakes and streams" stuff that seemingly everyone here knows, along with that thing about alligators.
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Quote Originally Posted by Ohm_Boy
    I was thinking that this town was under 10 feet or so of floodwater, and with that, many of the so-called clean water containment tanks would have been contamination targets. I have no idea how long water may sit in a water heater, or what their usage pattern is, but after a flood like that, I think that everything should be drained. I would have also thought that the local utility would have elevated the sanitizer level for some period to try to shake out hidden spots like that.
    The flooding was so severe that every house was gutted to bare studs or demolished. Nobody saved water heaters or anything like that. The family moved to another home but I don't know if it was a new construction or a remodel. I see them at the boys aunt and uncle's house so I am not too familiar the details of their house. Flooding was 3-23' with most houses got 8' + If somebody around these parts says I only got 3'feet of water, they hesitate a second and say, on the second floor.
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalandlord
    Chem Geek. For us dummies, Would this basically br the question donthey use chlorine or chloramines?
    If they added an ammonia tank then it's quite possible that they are using chloramine for disinfection in the distribution system. You would just ask them 1) is chlorine used as a primary disinfectant for the water and if not, then what is (e.g. ozone, chlorine dioxide, UV), and 2) what is used as the residual disinfectant in the distribution system, chlorine or monochloramine?

    It's just curiosity on my part. So long as the distribution water does not get contaminated, using monochloramine should be reasonable to prevent bacterial growth. It is possible that the primary disinfection at the water plant was not sufficient to kill the protozoan cysts.
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Quote Originally Posted by Ohm_Boy
    In Florida, everyone has grown up with warnings about brain-eating-amoeba. It's part of the "don't swim in lakes and streams" stuff that seemingly everyone here knows, along with that thing about alligators.
    Same reason we don't swim in the stock tanks here.

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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Quote Originally Posted by 257WbyMag
    Quote Originally Posted by Ohm_Boy
    In Florida, everyone has grown up with warnings about brain-eating-amoeba. It's part of the "don't swim in lakes and streams" stuff that seemingly everyone here knows, along with that thing about alligators.
    Same reason we don't swim in the stock tanks here.

    But, how many of us did that growing up? We did more than once, and never heard of such a thing. I wouldn't now though...amoebas or not. I love to swim...but not that much. Yuk.
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Like I wanted to read this
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    Re: To Avoid Brain-Eating Amoebas, Hold Your Nose

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle
    Like I wanted to read this

    Exactly........
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