Brain amoeba case has some questioning public water safety

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This summer, a four-year-old Mississippi boy died from a brain eating amoeba he got while playing on a slip-n-slide in Louisiana. The boy was in Louisiana visiting relatives when he contracted the deadly parasite.

Louisiana officials have linked it to the Saint Bernard Parish water supply, which they're working to disinfect. The story has sparked interest in the safety of our public water supply everywhere.

Tracey Forehand, who works for the Biloxi Water Department, said they strive to provide clean tap water.

"The water is tested by an independent company called MicroMethods once a month. They come in and satisfy our monthly BacT samples for the health department, and then we come by once a day and make sure everything is in good working condition," said Forehand.

MicroMethods Laboratory is a water supply testing company contracted by Biloxi. Harry Howell is co-owner and president of the company.

"We do all types of waste water, hazardous waste testing, drinking water testing, a good bit of industrial hygiene type testing such as mold, lead based paint, and asbestos testing," Howell explained.

Howell said he understands people's concern to have clean tap water.

"When it comes to potable water, you want to make sure it's safe, be it your private well out back. You want to make sure there is no influence of outside bacteria," said Howell.

MicroMethods only tests for certain organisms in water, but they say deadly parasites like the amoeba contracted by the four-year-old boy are rare. If your city provides you with water, Howell explains why you should feel that your water supply is safe.

"There is very little concern, because the cities are required once a month to take multiple samples depending on the population and analyze it for total chloroform and E-Coli," said Howell.

If you want to know more about the quality of water in your area, visit:,0,76.html

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