NSW Health’s Director of Environmental Health, Dr
Richard Broome, said the amoeba that occurs in warm natural surface waters and
soil causes infection which is rare but nearly always fatal.
“Amoebic meningitis can occur if water
containing active amoebae goes up someone’s nose,” Dr Broome said.
“At particular risk are people in rural areas who
have their own tank, dam or bore water supply, such as those living on farms,
and people with poorly maintained swimming pools.
“Any unchlorinated water supply that seasonally
exceeds 30oC or continually exceeds 25oC may be a risk.
This includes lakes, rivers, dams, bores, tanks, garden hoses, natural hot
springs, and spa and swimming pools that are poorly maintained.
“People should be careful to prevent water
going up their nose while swimming, diving or falling into warm, unchlorinated
water, or while children are playing under garden sprinklers.
“Shallow wading pools are particularly at risk
if they have been left in the sun for a long time.
“Children and young adults appear to be more
susceptible to infection than older adults. In younger people the amoeba can more
easily travel up the nose to the brain where they infect and destroy brain tissue.
“The bug that causes the illness does not survive
in water that is clean, cool and adequately chlorinated,” Dr Broome said.
The best way to avoid infection is:
- avoid jumping or diving
into bodies of warm fresh water or thermal pools
- keep your head above
water in spas, thermal pools and warm fresh water bodies
- ensure swimming pools
and spas are adequately chlorinated and well maintained
- empty and clean small
collapsible wading pools and let them dry in the sun after each use
- flush warm water from
hoses before allowing children to play with hoses or sprinklers
If you are using
- don’t allow water to go up your nose when bathing, showering
or washing your face
- supervise children playing with hoses or sprinklers and
teach them not to squirt water up their nose
More information can be
found at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/water/Pages/naegleria.aspx