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Louisiana to raise chlorine levels in drinking water in response to finding Naegleria fowleri in water system

In an effort to control the amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, in the drinking water systems in Louisiana, The Department of Health and Hospitals on Wednesday issued an emergency rule requiring that water systems in the state maintain a higher residual disinfectant level and increase their number of sampling sites by 25 percent by next February.

Public domain image/ The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

Public domain image/ The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry and DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert signed the rule on Wednesday, following discussions with scientists, federal officials, industry leaders and water system operators. The Emergency Rule is based on scientific data and recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relative to the control of the Naegleria fowleri ameba that was discovered in two public water systems in the state.

Secretary Kliebert said, “These rules will help parishes maintain quality, safe sources of local water for residents. The ameba has been traced back to a treated drinking water system, which is why we must take action now to ensure the safety of our people. We will continue to work with local water system officials to answer questions and provide technical assistance so that we can meet our shared goal of keeping our water safe.”

State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said, “We are taking this measure today to ensure that we have safer, healthier water for everyone in the state. This action will help our water systems protect against parasites like Naegleria fowleri in the future. Our water is safe to drink; this change will simply make our water safer for all uses.”

Prior to the Emergency Rule, Louisiana’s regulations, which were implemented in 1995 in accordance with federal guidance, stipulated that drinking water systems were required to have a “trace” or “detectable” level of free chlorine residual at all points of their system at all times. Under the new rule, drinking water systems must have a minimum disinfectant residual level of 0.5 milligrams per liter throughout all of their distribution lines. This 0.5 mg/L level is known to control the Naegleria fowleri ameba.

Some water systems may choose to conduct chlorine flushes or burns to raise the level of free chlorine in their water lines. During this time, the water will remain safe to drink, but could change slightly in color and odor. DHH encourages water customers to contact their water company if they have questions about how their drinking water is disinfected.

This is in response to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) discovery of Naegleria fowleri in the water systems of  St. Bernard and DeSoto parishes.

A four-year-old child was killed by the amoeba while playing with a water toy while visiting a home in St. Bernard Parish this past summer.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. CDC: DeSoto Parish water tests negative for Naegleria after uping chlorine levels - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] a follow-up to a report where Louisiana officials raised the chlorine levels in the DeSoto Parish water system after the ameba, Naegleria fowleri was discovered in the water, the state Department of […]

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