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Deadly amoeba kills Mississippi boy

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Parents of the 4-year-old victim from Mississippi are warning other parents to be cautious after their little boy contracted the parasite and died. Parents of the 4-year-old victim from Mississippi are warning other parents to be cautious after their little boy contracted the parasite and died.
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A deadly case of a rare brain-eating amoeba has surfaced in Louisiana. Parents of the 4-year-old victim from Mississippi are warning other parents to be cautious after their little boy contracted the parasite and died.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the presence of a dangerous brain-eating amoeba lurking in the pipes of St. Bernard Parish's water system. The discovery came after 4-year-old Drake Smith Jr., became infected with the deadly parasite after playing on a backyard water slide with his cousin.

"I thought he was going to pull through," said Drake Smith Sr., the boy's father. "But, day by day, it kept getting worse and worse."

Young Drake died in August. Tests showed the brain eating amoeba was in the parish water system, in faucets and hydrants. Chlorine kills the amoeba, but the chlorine levels in the water system were low.

Officials say the water's safe to drink, but are warning residents to make sure the water doesn't go up their noses when bathing, for example, or running through a sprinkler.

"The amoeba then finds its way back in our noses and then can work its way into our central nervous system, around our brains," said Dr. William Schaffner, a preventative medicine specialist at Vanderbilt. "And once it's there it just causes destruction."

Local schools are shutting down water fountains.

"We just don't want a little one to go to the water fountain and get water on their face, possibly up their nose," said school principal Carol Corollo.

"I'm a parent, so I am a little nervous and leery about it," said Lori Lewis. "But my hopes is just that the parish and the CDC really buckle down and do what they need to do to get this under control."

The parish is flushing the water system with chlorine, but they say it will take several weeks before the levels are back up to standards.

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