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DHH: Most of state's water systems meet new rules

3 years 3 months 1 day ago March 24, 2014 Mar 24, 2014 Monday, March 24 2014 March 24, 2014 2:33 PM in Health
Source: WBRZ
By: Russell Jones

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana health officials announced Monday that 95 percent of the state's drinking water systems have complied with a new rule to combat a brain-eating amoeba.

The Department of Health and Hospitals said 73 of the state's 1,369 water systems met new requirements for increased levels of disinfectant and more water quality monitoring. Those include some water systems in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, Point Coupee, and Tangipahoa parishes.

"It is important for users in these systems to understand that their water remains safe to drink, even if the system did not comply with the new rule yet," DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said. "The raised chlorination standards are higher than the national standards for drinking water and were put in place to ensure that the water is safe for all uses."

The new standards were put in place by an emergency rule issued in November 2013 to deal with the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, which had been detected in two Louisiana public waters systems last year. It's blamed for two deaths in DeSoto Parish in 2011, and the death of a Mississippi boy in 2013.

According to the CDC the ameba typically enters the body after water is forced up a person's nose, such as when swimming or using a nasal irrigation device. The amoeba then gets into the brain tissue and begins destroying it. The CDC said drinking tap water which contains the amoeba does not contract it.

Infections are very rare, with only 31 reported infections between 2003 and 2012. The CDC compared that to 39,000 drowning deaths in the U. S. between 1996 and 2005.

Click here for a list of water systems which aren't in compliance with the new rules.

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