Amoebic meningitis risk: parents urged to be cautious as mercury soars


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AS Perth endures scorching temperatures, 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 due to their recreational water use and activities,” he said.

He said people swimming in dams or playing with garden hoses or sprinklers, regardless of water source, also needed to be vigilant and ensure no water entered the nose.