8 Texas cities warned of possible brain-eating amoeba in water supply after death of 6-yr-old boy

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Just when you think 2020 couldn’t get much worse, enter a scare about brain-eating amoeba possibly in the water supply of some cities.

While the coronavirus gifted to the world by China has its perils, statistics show it’s the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions most at risk of dying, but a single-celled animal set on devouring your brain is not as discriminating.

 

At least eight cities in the Houston suburban area were briefly under orders to not use the water because it may be tainted with a deadly brain-eating amoeba following the death of a 6-year-old boy.

Josiah McIntyre died Sept. 8 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, according to his mother, Maria Castillo, who said doctors told her the cause of death was a brain-eating amoeba, NBC News reported.

The city of Lake Jackson acknowledged that an unnamed 6-year-old boy had been hospitalized for “a rare and often fatal brain eating amoeba” it identified as naegleria fowleri, the network reported.

A water advisory was issued late Friday by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to residents by the Brazosport Water Authority, warning not to use any water for any reason, other than to flush toilets, due to the presence of naegleria fowleri.

“The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at the direction of the Governor’s Office is working with Brazosport Water Authority to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” the advisory read.

The cities affected include: Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute and Rosenburg.

Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in warm freshwater and soil, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People are infected when the amoeba enters the body through the nose. It then travels to the brain and can cause a rare and debilitating disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which is usually fatal.

“Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers,” the CDC website says. “In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose. You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria.”

The advisory was lifted around noon Saturday for all cities except Lake Jackson, a city with more 27,000 residents.

“Lake Jackson residents are still urged to follow the Do Not Use Water Advisory until the water system has been adequately flushed and samples indicate that the water is safe to use. It is not known at this time how long this may take,” the commission said in a statement.

The Lake Jackson advisory was lifted Saturday evening at 10 p.m., although a boil water notice is in effect along with additional precautionary measures.

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Tom Tillison

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