Amoebic meningitis warning for NSW as temps remain high

How do you get infected?

A very rare but often fatal infection (amoebic meningitis or meningoencephalitis) can occur if contaminated water goes up into the nose. This may occur when people swim, dive or fall into warm unchlorinated water containing Naegleria, or when children play under sprinklers or with hoses using this water, or when infected water is inhaled to cleanse the nasal passages. Children and young adults appear to be more susceptible to infections than adults. Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which result in higher water temperatures. You cannot get infected by swallowing water containing Naegleria.

How is Naegleria infection prevented?

To prevent infection, household water supplies should be disinfected by continuously maintaining a free chlorine residual concentration of 0.5 milligrams per litre or higher. Take the following precautions:

  • flush stagnant water from hoses before allowing children to play with hoses or sprinklers

  • if you are using unchlorinated water:

    • 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 to not squirt water up their nose

  • potentially contaminated water should not be used for any form of nasal irrigation or nasal lavage including Neti (an Ayurvedic practice of nasal cleansing).

For recreational waters:

  • 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

  • keep your head above water in spas, thermal pools and warm fresh water bodies

  • avoid jumping or diving into bodies of warm fresh water or thermal pools (or any actions where water is forced into the nose at pressure)

  • do not submerge your head when in spas, thermal pools and warm fresh water bodies.

    For more information

    Contact your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 and refer to:

Joel Kozlowski