Post-flooding fear in Texas and Florida as risk of contracting DEADLY rare brain-eating bacteria rises dramatically

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
By Paul Martin

by: JD Heyes
Monday, September 18, 2017

Though the local utility companies have done an outstanding job restoring power to much of the state, more than 1 million Floridians remain without power following Hurricane Irma.

In Texas, flood waters are receding, but like Florida, damage was extensive and it will take years before things are back to normal.

In the meantime, says one medical expert, residents of both storm-ravaged states will have another potentially deadly problem to deal with: A type of bacteria that can destroy the brain.

As reported by Dr. Manny Alvarez at Fox News, while the media and most Americans were rightly focused on rescue and recovery operations initially, the threat from a rare brain-devouring bacteria is long-term and not readily seen:

Hurricanes can have unforeseen impacts on cities’ water supplies, increasing the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria from local water sources and the soil. The southern United States, which offers warm weather almost year-round, is particularly vulnerable to heat-loving microorganisms like the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri.

Alvarez notes that viruses and bacteria comprise the lion’s share of infections in human beings. That said, the Naegleria fowleri has a particular affinity for brain tissue, and while infection rates are extremely rare, the risks are generally higher following storms.

In addition, despite their rarity, Naegleria fowleri has an extremely high death rate. Of the 143 documented cases in the U.S., only four people have survived. “And experts are concerned that Hurricane Katrina may be partially to blame for the three documented cases in Louisiana since 2005,” Alvarez writes.

As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Naegleria fowleri is a “free-living microscopic amoeba” that causes a condition known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM. The organism “is commonly found in warm freshwater” such as rivers, hot springs, and lakes as well as the soil. People are most often infected when contaminated water enters the body via the nasal cavity.

“Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers,” the CDC said. “You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria.”

Alvarez notes that damage to water treatment systems from storms increases the risk of soil-borne contamination. Also, as people flee storm-ravaged areas, there is far less demand on the water system so it can stagnate in pipes and thus increase the potential for becoming tainted with the bacteria. Water sitting in pipes in summer heat can see chemicals used to kill microorganisms evaporate quickly, allowing parasites like Naegleria to proliferate.

What’s more, Alvarez says, Florida and Texas are already tied for the most cases; damage from both hurricanes could now put area residents at even greater risk, making it vital that they know and recognize the signs of infection, as well as how to keep themselves safe.

The Rest…HERE

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