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Rare Brain-eating Amoeba Found in Texas Water Supply After 6-year-old Dies of Infection, Advisory in Place

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Earlier, Lake Jackson had issued a disaster declaration and residents were cautioned against using the water from the supply system until the Brazosport Water Authority has completed an adequate flush out of its water system.

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Buzz Staff

Texas officials on Saturday lifted the warning for eight Houston-area communtites to stop using tap water because it might be tainted with a deadly brain-eating microbe. One city remained under a boil water notice.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality warned the Brazosport Water Authority late Friday of the potential contamination of its water supply by naegleria fowleri.

The authority initially warned eight communities not to use tap water for any reason except to flush toilets, but on Saturday it lifted that warning for all communities. The advisory also was canceled for two state prisons and Dow Chemical’s massive Freeport works.

A water advisory for the residents was issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that advised not to use any water as it contained Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba. The microbe was found in the water supply on Friday, a CNN report said.

"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 reads.

Earlier this month, 6-year-old Josh McIntyre died after contracting the microbe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the brain-eating amoeba is commonly found in soil, warm lakes, rivers, and hot springs. It can also be found in poorly maintained or unchlorinated pools and in warm water discharge from industrial plants.

The cities of Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute and Rosenberg, Texas were the ones issued the advisory. Along with the 8 cities, Dow Chemical plant in Freeport and the Clemens and Wayne Scott Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections facilities were also issued the No water usage advisory.

Earlier, Lake Jackson had issued a disaster declaration and residents were cautioned against using the water from the supply system until the Brazosport Water Authority has completed an adequate flush out of its water system, according to TCEQ.

The source of the 6-year-old Josh McIntyre's infection was traced back to either a water fountain "splash pad" in front of Lake Jackson Civic Center or through water emitted from a hose at the boy's home, a statement said.

City authorities said the the splash pad was immediately closed and they hired a private lab to run a test on a five-gallon water sample from it, the results for which came back negative on September 14 for Naegleria fowleri, and the CDC was contacted for further water testing from the splash pad.

Acting on it, officials from the Texas Department of Health Services collected water and tested samples from the splash pad again and on September 25, three of the 11 water samples tested positive for the microbe.

TCEQ has started testing the chlorine levels in the City of Lake Jackson's water source and has said it will take approximately three days to clear the system. Meanwhile, residents will be getting free case of water from the city.

The CDC says that Naegleria fowleri infections are rare most are fatal. From 2009 to 2018, only 34 infections were reported in the United States. Last year, a 10-year-old girl had died after she contracted the amoeba while swimming in a Texas river.

According to the CDC, 145 people were infected from 1962 to 2018 and only four survived.


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