- A 6-year-old boy died in early September from an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba
- Three of the 11 samples collected confirmed the presence of the naegleria fowleri microbe in Lake Jackson’s water system
- Officials warned residents to not drink tap water directly and boil their water before use
The presence of a brain-eating parasite that led to the death of a 6-year-old boy was found in the water system of a Texas town near Houston. Officials said it will take at least 60 days to completely disinfect the water system.
Health officials started collecting water samples to conduct tests after the death of Josiah McIntyre in Lake Jackson, Texas, in early September. Three of the 11 samples collected tested positive for the naegleria fowleri microbe, Lake Jackson City Manager Modesto Mundo told Associated Press on Monday.
On Sept. 25, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) alerted the Brazosport Water Authority (BWA) about the presence of the microbe in its water system, prompting BWA to issue a warning in eight cities including Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute, and Rosenberg.
The residents were asked not to use tap water for any reason except to flush toilets. The advisory was later canceled for the other communities, but not for Lake Jackson, a city of more than 27,000, where the authority’s water treatment plant was located. A day later, the warning was lifted for Lake Jackson residents, but they were still urged to boil the water before using it.
Mundo said the city’s water utility is working to replace any “old water” in its system with freshwater, thereby disinfecting and purging the system of the naegleria fowleri parasite. “We’ll be doing that for a 60-day period,” Mundo told the AP.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, naegleria fowleri is a free-living microscopic amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater and soil. It is known to infect people when contaminated water enters the body through nose and travels to the brain, causing a fatal disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. The infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in lakes and rivers, as well as through contaminated tap water.