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Brain-Eating Microbe Found In Texas Town’s Water System Following Boy’s Death

KEY POINTS

  • 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.

Bacteria Bacteria, as seen under a microscope. Photo: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Texas officials say it could take 2-3 months to make water safe from brain-eating amoebas

Texas officials on Tuesday said it could take two to three months to disinfect the water in Lake Jackson after a brain-eating amoeba killed a 6-year-old. Officials stressed, however, that becoming infected with the amoeba is rare.

“The path forward for the citizens of Lake Jackson is not going to be one that’s short,” Texas Commission on Environmental Quality executive director Toby Baker said at a press conference. “We have to get through the boil water first, which could take two to three weeks, after that we have to get chlorine levels to a state that can burn the entire system, scour the system, and kill the amoebas. That could take up to an additional 60 days.”

Baker added that the CDC has said it will test the city’s water once the process is complete to make sure it’s safe. He also said agencies will check to make sure unfiltered water isn’t entering the water system in areas the city is unaware of.

Baker and other officials, including Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, said water in surrounding areas is safe. Abbott also said that “all information points to this being isolated.”

Josiah McIntyre died earlier this month after being infected with the brain-eating parasite Naegleria fowleri. McIntyre’s mother said he became ill with flu-like symptoms first, but his condition soon deteriorated to the point where he was having trouble standing and communicating, CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports.

Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Sunday after testing found the brain-eating amoeba in the water supply.

On Saturday, environmental officials lifted a warning for Lake Jackson to stop using tap water because it might be tainted with a deadly brain-eating microbe, but warned the water should be boiled before being consumed. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also advised residents to prevent water from getting into their nose when bathing, showering, swimming and washing their face.

Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner John Hellerstedt said Tuesday that the disease that killed McIntyre is rare, and that the only way to get it so to have infected water go up into your sinuses “and basically then lodge there at the top of the sinuses and work its way from there through a membrane … that goes into the brain.”

“There is no other way to get it,” he said. “You cannot get that infection from drinking the water.”

Source Article

Purging water system of brain-eating microbe to take 60 days

Updated


LAKE JACKSON, Texas (AP) — A Houston-area official said it will take 60 days to ensure a city drinking water system is purged of a deadly, microscopic parasite that doctors believed killed a boy and that led to warnings for others not to drink tap water.

Lake Jackson City Manager Modesto Mundo said Monday that three of 11 samples of the city’s water indicated preliminary positive results for the naegleria fowleri microbe. Mundo said Lake Jackson residents are still urged to boil their tap water before using it.


One sample, Mundo said, came from the home of Josiah McIntyre, the 6-year-old boy whom doctors said died earlier this month after being infected with the brain-eating parasite.

Maria Castillo, Josiah’s mother, said Monday that her son first started showing flu-like symptoms. But those quickly worsened to the point where he had trouble standing and communicating.



“We found out that it was, most likely this amoeba that was causing all of these symptoms,” Castillo said outside her home, in front of a yard sign that showed a picture of her son.

Doctors took measures to alleviate swelling in the child’s brain and tried to save him.


It was hard for Josiah’s mother to accept the death of a child so full of life.

“Josiah loved to be outside and he loved to be with his sister and his cousin,” Castillo said “He was a lovable little boy and loved everybody he was around.”

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality warned the Brazosport Water Authority late Friday of the potential contamination of its water supply by the deadly microscopic flagellate. The TCEQ has advised the community to flush out its water distribution