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Again the news likes to scare us and a good example is the most recent case of the recent death of the 4 yr old in Louisiana from the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in the brain.   He acquired it while playing on a slip and slide at a birthday.   The water was untreated.  Chlorine kills the amoeba but many water systems in Louisiana are not treated.  This infection is very rare…. only 31 cases were reported in the last 10 years in America. Six of them were in Arizona where the well water is not treated with chlorine and it is warm.  Many 10% of the well waters in Arizona contain them.  There is no risk if your water system is from the city that treats it with chlorine.  I would rather have too much chlorine (you can smell it) rather than not enough.  There are a lot more germs that the chlorine prevents.  The majority of the cases are from summertime freshwater ponds and lakes.  You have to get the contaminated water way up in your nose and a few cases were from people irrigating their sinuses with untreated water.  You CANNOT get it from drinking water containing the amoeba and you cannot get it from bathing as long as you do not get it way up in your nose.  There is no reason for panic.  Wear a nose clip when swimming in small ponds and see your doctor if there is fever, headache, and stiff neck. (Duh!)


Roger Knapp MD
Sept 2013