A “brain-eating“ amoeba has been found in water supply system of a Texas city where a 6-year-old boy recently died from an infection with the organism, accord. with news reports.
The boy, Josiah McIntyre, who lived in Lake Jackson, a city near Houston, Texas, died on Sept 8 of a rare infection with the amoeba, referred to as Naegleria fowleri, consistent with NBC News. Naegleria fowleri is of course naturally found in warm freshwater, like lakes and rivers, and other people usually become infected after swimming or diving in bodies of contaminated freshwater, consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Infections, which are rare, happen when contaminated water goes up the nose — you can’t become infected from swallowing contaminated water, the CDC says.
Josiah’s family said he may exposed to Naegleria fowleri from either their home’s water hose, or a city “splash pad,” where water sprays up from ground , consistent with The New York Times. Officials tested 11 samples from Lake Jackson’s water supply system , and found that 3 were “preliminary positive,” including samples from a city fire-hydrant, splash pad storage tank and Josiah’s home water hose faucet, The Times reported.
On Sunday (Sept. 27), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for Brazoria County, where Lake Jackson is found , thanks to the presence of Naegleria fowleri in water supply system . The organism poses “an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life,” Abbott said.
In Brazoria County, officials released a “do not use” water advisory for Lake Jackson, which was later changed to a “boil notice,” meaning residents are advised to boil water for drinking and cooking, while the town works to flush and disinfect the water system. Until the flushing and disinfection process is complete, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality advised residents to avoid activities that would cause water to go up the nose, such sniffing water up your nose while bathing or in shower, submerging your head in bathing water or play with sprinklers.
Purging the city’s water system will take 60 days, Modesto Mundo, mayor of Lake Jackson, said on Monday (Sept. 28), accord. to Associated Press. This process includes removing the old water, disinfecting the system and returning fresh-water, the AP reported.
Infections with Naegleria fowleri are nearly always fatal; however, infections are very rare, with the standard number of U.S. infections starting from 0-8 per annum, consistent with the CDC. additionally to Josiah’s case, a minimum of 2 other fatal cases of Naegleria fowleri are reported this year, including a 13-year-old boy, who became infected after swimming during a lake in North Florida.
Naegleria fowleri may be a heat-loving organism, and in U.S., most infections occur in southern states, particularly during the summer months after it’s been hot for prolonged periods, which raises the temperature of freshwater, consistent with the CDC. Infections could also be becoming more common as water temperatures rise thanks to global climate change.
Although extremely rare, infections from contaminated drinking water systems have occured in past, including the case of a 4-year-old boy in Louisiana who died in 2013 after he likely become infected by using lawn Slip ‘N Slide, consistent with a 2015 report of the case published in journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.