Brain-eating Amoeba

By Mark Timmons
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OK, to those of you who know me, you will say that I am safe from a brain-eating amoeba because it would die of starvation.  But seriously, folks... This sounds like a sci-fi movie plot, but it's real.  In August, a 4 year-old Mississippi boy died from playing on a "Slip n' Slide" in New Orleans.  The cause of death was a rare, brain-eating amoeba. At first, officials thought the amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, had been present in muddy water that the boy was playing in on the property. Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in freshwater streams, lakes and rivers.  But testing confirmed that the microscopic organism came from the St. Bernard Parish water system that fed the slide.  THE CITY WATER SUPPLY! Matt Hamilton of The LA Times wrote this about the amoeba on September 21, 2013:
The primary risk of disease is when infected water enters the nose, according to the state's Department of Health and Hospitals. Once in the sinus, the amoeba travels along the nerves and crosses into the brain through tiny openings in the bone at the base of the forehead, Yoder said. Infection by the amoeba, which leads to a form of encephalitis, is rare but almost always deadly. Federal, state and locals official in St. Bernard Parish — a district with about 40,000 residents southeast of New Orleans — are trying to figure out how the brain-destroying amoeba entered the water supply. Possible factors include high temperatures along with low levels of chlorine in the water. Tests last week revealed that chlorine was almost undetectable, officials said.
The CDC has documented 132 infections from the Naegleria fowleri amoeba since 1962, almost all of them were fatal.  Stomach acid kills the amoeba so tap water is safe to drink, but no one should not  let water get up their noses while bathing or swimming in pools.   People who flush their sinuses are advised to use water that has been boiled or purified by reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light.  This is a classic case of where a whole-house Ultraviolet (UV) Disinfection System would kill the Amoeba, as well as a plethora of other bacteria.  Peace of mind comes with the installation of a whole-house ultraviolet disinfection system.
October 19, 2013
August 14, 2017 at 8:28 PM
Does the water have to be purified with reverse omosis and uv light or can it just be purified by reverse omosis?
Mark Timmons
August 19, 2017 at 1:29 PM
I would use a RO that has Quantum Disinfection as well, like this: Quantum Disinfection is better than UV!
October 8, 2017 at 1:02 AM
What if you have a salt softner to treat your well water because it saues amoebas cant survive in salt water?
Mark Timmons
October 8, 2017 at 9:12 PM
Well, they can't survive in sea water, but salt brine is much lower salinity. I don't know at what level they cannot survive.
James Fitzgerald
October 16, 2018 at 9:57 AM
is the LA/Palos Verdes water purification sufficient to kill the amoeba and use the city water for nasal rinse?
Mark Timmons
October 23, 2018 at 4:48 PM
I would not bet my life on it!
Tim Davis
August 6, 2019 at 6:59 PM
I received an article from an NIH researcher. They inspected two of the victims' homes and found that Naegleria fowleri had formed and established colonies in a tankless water heater and a pipe even though they couldn't find it in the public purified water supplying the homes. It's an interesting read. They did not conclude that UV light kills the amoeba, having not tested that. I have a UV water pitcher and when I contacted the NIH they declined to say yay or nay because it was not tested against this amoeba. They did test and say that using previously boiled water was effective. I contacted them about salt and that's why they sent a copy of their report. They tested salt and found that, while the amoeba can't live in saltwater, it takes too much time for salt to kill them - over 8 hours did not result in the amoeba being completely killed. They tested and showed that distilled, or previously boiled water, or a filter (using a filter with an absolute pore size of ≤1 μm ), were the most effective protections. I am willing to send a copy of the article to anyone who wants it. It's only 7 pages long and not difficult to understand. I've been using a Water Pik and a sinus attachment since the 90s. Every day. I took NO precautions for a long time, just using warm tap water and salt. Had my system been infected, so would I have been infected. Until recently, I was just using a Brita filter (primarly for taste for my drinking water) and a UV water pitcher and boiled water (to make it warm and to dissolve salt into it). I am NOW using previously boiled water and boiling salt water to make my mixture. If there's no amoeba in my water supply, I'm pretty safe. If, however, it gets in my water heater and colonizes, and if I have any cross contamination, it could be a problem. I don't know how many people in the US rinse their sinuses, but I don't personally know anyone else who does. That makes me think that 132 cases nationwide isn't a great statistic. My local water supply doesn't test for this because it's no danger to people who drink the water. I'm thinking of using the UV, too, but or just UV and ineffective filtering, but that would be taking the chance that the UV works when the experts don't know.
Mark Timmons
August 9, 2019 at 3:01 PM
UV is very effective in killing Naegleria fowleri bacteria, as well as all other bacteria. However, the problem is that the water needs to be clean, clear and free of debris so that the little critters do not have any place to hide. This is exactly why we designed this UV System: It provides the proper prefiltration to keep the UV chamber free of any debris and the final filter (before the ultraviolet chamber) is "sub-micron" which is a barrier to the bacteria. <strong>4-STAGES OF PROTECTION</strong> Stage 1: 5 Micron Magna Pre-Filter – The first stage traps all particles above 5 microns, which is typically 70-80% of the solids, silt, sand, and sediment. Stage 2: 1 Micron Magna Pre-Filter – Next, the second stage “steps-down” to 1 micron which is the size of Giardia and Cryptosporidium Cysts. At this juncture, nearly 100% of the solids have been removed. Stage 3: Interceptor Sub-Micron Filter – Now, it’s time to go through the Disrupter media with a Zeta potential of 51 millivolts. Many contaminants are actually "magnetically" removed from the water supply and "secured" in the Charged Filter. It stops things like bacteria, lead, tannin and Chromium 6. Stage 4: Pulsar Ultraviolet Disinfection Chamber – The Pulsar UV is the most advanced ultraviolet system on the market today. It assures 100% destruction of bacteria, parasites, virus, and cysts when preceded by the Interceptor cartridge. Solid-state computerized system tells you exactly when to perform maintenance.