Eight cities have been alerted of a brain-eating amoeba found in the southeast Texas water supply, and a disaster declaration has been issued by Gov. Greg Abbott. Due to the presence of Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba in the Brazosport Water Authority supply, residents of Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute and Rosenberg, Texas were requested not to consume the water as per an advisory by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The advisory reads, “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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that this amoeba is commonly found in hot springs, warm lakes, rivers, and soil. However, unchlorinated pools and poorly maintained water bodies can also develop these.
Lake Jackson continues to be under the disaster declaration
While the ‘Do Not Use Advisory’ has been removed from all other cities, Lake Jackson continues to be under the guidelines of safe usage. The issue was first reported on September 8 when a boy was hospitalized with the amoeba. His problem could be traced back to two possible sources: a “splash pad” in front of Lake Jackson Civic Center or through the water from a hose at his house. The splash pad was closed, and the water was sent for examination, but the reports came negative on September 14 for Naegleria fowleri. On September 25, 3 of the 11 samples collected by the Texas Department of Health Services tested positive, and a Do Not Use advisory was issued.
A 6-year old boy succumbs to the amoeba
The boy, Josiah McIntyre died on September 8, succumbing to the brain-eating amoeba. His mother, Maria Castillo, said, “While Josiah’s passing is heartbreaking, the answers about the water may provide some hope for those who knew and loved him.” The initial deaths from N. fowleri were reported in southern Louisiana in 2011 and 2013, found in the tap water from treated U.S. public drinking water systems. The microbe was also seen in 2003 in an untreated geothermal well-supplied drinking water system in Arizona.
- fowleri and warm weather
- fowleri is reported commonly found in lakes in the South in the warm temperatures and can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis, according to CDC. “The microbe can cause symptoms similar to bacterial meningitis, including headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting, making an initial diagnosis challenging. The infection progresses rapidly, eventually causing neck stiffness, seizures, hallucinations and coma,” the CDC says. While the infections are rare, N. fowleri subjects are mostly fatal. CDC also reports that 145 people were infected with this amoeba from 1962 to 2018, and only four of them survived. Out of the 34 cases from 2009-2018, 30 were caused by recreational water.