Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Sunday after a brain-eating amoeba was discovered in the water supply for Lake Jackson, Texas. The disaster declaration extends across Brazoria County, where Lake Jackson is located.
On Saturday, the city’s mayor issued a similar disaster declaration.
The disaster declaration comes after the death of a 6-year-old boy who was infected by a brain-eating amoeba, according to Lake Jackson City Manager Modesto Mundo.
While Lake Jackson lifted a “Do-Not-Use” advisory for water customers, a boil order still remains in place. The city is now giving free cases of water to residents today from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Brazosport College.
According to Abbott’s declaration, “the presence of naegleria fowleri, which can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, was identified in 11 tests of the the water supply, posing an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life, in Brazoria County.”
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The amoeba is typically found in warm freshwater and soil, according to the CDC. This usually infects people through contaminated water entering the nose. Once the amoeba enters a body, it can travel to the brain and cause meningoencephalitis.
The mysterious death of 6-year-old Josiah McIntyre prompted tests of the water supply. The family believes the boy contracted the amoeba at a local splash pad or a watering hose near his family’s home, according to Mundo. The splash pad was shut down on September 8 and the city began testing its water for the amoeba.
“The notification to us at the time was that he played at one of the play fountains, and he may have also played with a water hose at the home,” Mundo told KHOU’s David Gonzales.
McIntyre’s mom Maria Castillo said that he began to complain of a headache on Thursday, September 3.
“Friday, he started vomiting and having fever,” Castillo told KHOU’s Melissa Correa. McIntyre was treated for meningitis while his family waited for more results, according to KHOU. Then his doctors gave the family the news: McIntyre was infected with a brain-eating amoeba. The family was shocked and confused by the diagnosis.
“We haven’t been to the river this year. We don’t go lake jumping or river jumping,” Castillo told Correa.
After McIntyre’s mysterious case, preliminary tests came back positive at three of the 11 locations tested.
“We’re just as surprised as everybody that the tests came back for the system,” Mundo said.