People are urged to take precautions to avoid potentially fatal amoebic meningitis from Naegleria fowleri.
Direct link to the official media release January 2019: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/news/Pages/20190109_01.aspx
With summer in full swing, parents are being urged to take precautions around untreated or poorly treated water to protect children from deadly amoebic meningitis.
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.
What is Naegleria fowleri?
Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba (microorganism), commonly found in unchlorinated warm fresh water and soil. Any water supply that seasonally exceeds 30°C or continually exceeds 25°C may be a risk. This includes lakes, rivers, dams, bores, tanks, pipelines, natural hot waters/springs and spa and swimming pools that are poorly maintained, under-chlorinated or unchlorinated. Naegleriacannot survive in water that is clean, cool and adequately chlorinated.
Households with a private water supply
Households with a private water supply should be familiar with the quality of their drinking water. Private supplies may include rainwater, groundwater (from bores or springs), surface water (from a dam or stream) or carted water. Water used for household purposes such as drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene (including cleaning teeth/oral hygiene and bathing) should meet water quality guidelines in order to protect you and your family’s health. You do not need to test for Naegleria fowleri directly. Any warm unchlorinated fresh water could contain Naegleria.
NSW Health recommends that groundwater and surface water is not used for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene (including cleaning teeth and bathing) without testing and appropriate treatment including disinfection. This can be done by testing the microbiological, chemical and radiological quality of the water and disinfecting with chlorine.
Rainwater tanks are widely used as a source of drinking water in rural Australia. A properly maintained rainwater tank can provide good quality drinking water. Adequate disinfection can protect against harmful microorganisms.