AS Perth endures a scorching week, parents are being urged to change wading pool water after each use and ensure swimming pools are properly chlorinated to protect children from deadly amoebic meningitis.
There has not been a case in WA since the 1980s but infection is usually fatal so people should not be complacent.
Naegleria fowleri amoeba live in fresh water and damp soil.
When water containing active amoebae enters the nose, they travel to the brain causing inflammation and destruction of brain tissue.
Department of Health Environmental Health Water Unit manager Richard Theobald said children often cooled down from garden hoses, or sprinklers, wading pools and on regional properties, dams and lakes.
“As amoebae thrive in water temperatures between 28C and 40C, it should be assumed that any warm fresh water potentially contains the Naegleria fowleri amoeba.
“The infection can affect people at any age; however children and young adults are usually more susceptible to the infection due to their recreational water use and activities.”
He said people swimming in dams or playing with garden hoses or sprinklers, regardless of water source, also need to be vigilant and ensure no water from these sources enters the nose.
ADVICE FOR PARENTS
Never allow water to go up your nose or a child’s nose
Run all water from any hose or sprinkler for a few minutes until cool water flows before playing with the water
If the water in a hose or sprinkler remains warm even after flushing for a few minutes, do not let children play with it
Always supervise children playing with hoses or sprinklers and teach them not to squirt water up their noses.
Disinfect your swimming pool water with chlorine – chlorine is the most effective way to continually disinfect water as it kills all stages of the amoeba
Keep wading pools clean by emptying, scrubbing and allowing them to dry in the sun after each use
Do not jump or dive into water – walk or lower yourself in
Swim in and play with safe, disinfected, water only
Stay out of dirty pools, waterholes, dams, swimming pools or spas
Swim in seawater or chlorinated pools rather than fresh water
Do not dig or stir up sediment
Let bath and shower taps run for a few minutes to flush out the pipes
Do not use tap water for nasal irrigation unless it has been further treated