TODAY

TODAY   |  September 18, 2013

Brain-eating amoeba found in water supply

A rare but deadly brain-eating amoeba was found in a drinking water supply in Louisiana, the first time it has ever been found in a water supply inside the United States. Residents of St. Bernard Parish are particularly worried, after a young boy  from their community recently died from the disease. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

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>> we'll take a turn now and go to natalie. you the top stories of the morning.

>> good morning, everyone. there's growing concern this morning in one parish in louisiana after a rare but deadly amoeba was found in the water supply . despite assurances the water is safe, some residences are not sure. katie is in louisiana . good morning.

>> good morning natalie. a brain eating amoeba found in the water supply . it's enough to make anyone nervous. especially the residents here in st. bernard parish. 43,000 of them. despite assurances that the water is safe, today, one young boy is dead.

>> 4-year-old drake smith, jr. was playing on a backyard water slide when water contaminated with the deadly brain eating amoeba naegleria fowleri went up his nose. only days later he was dead. it's the third death in louisiana since 2011 . still the cdc says not to panic.

>> this is a unique event. most people will never have to worry about this.

>> airing on the side of caution, elementary schools in st. bernard parish turned off water fountains and closed a pool.

>> why haven't they let us know before this.

>> we don't want to hear it's safe, it's not safe, back and forth. we want to know what's actually going on.

>> there's only 132 documented cases of the infection in the u.s. in the past 50 years. the rare parasite enters the brain through the nose and destroyed brain tissue . so far, there's only two survivors. but experts say there's no need to put down the water glass .

>> that blow up pool in the yard, you don't put your head under. the slip and slide where water is going to go under the nose or you're putting your head under the bathtub. it's not about drinking the water.

>> now to be extra cautious, st. bernard parish is flushing extra chlorine through the water supply and will continue to do so for the next few weeks.