From 2009 to 2018 about 34 cases of Naegleria fowleri infections were reported in the United States. Though the infection is rare, it is fatal.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 29, 2020. It has since been updated.
Residents of Texas have been alerted about the presence of a brain-eating amoeba in the local water system. The incident came to light after it led to the death of a six-year-old.
According to the Daily Mail, Josiah McIntyre who played in the water at Lake Jackson passed away on September 8, 2020. Authorities believe that the child might have been exposed to the amoeba, Naegleria fowleri through a splash pad in the city, or from a hose in his residence.
Residents in Lake Jackson, Texas, are being told not to use the water because a brain-eating amoeba was found in the supply. Seven other southeast Texas cities had been warned but have since been cleared.https://t.co/wEHVhuSHN4— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) September 26, 2020
According to CNN, the city authorities quickly sprung to action after the incident was reported. They hired a private lab to test a five-gallon water sample from the fountain. However, the results were negative. They further went on to test the water from the splash pad. Three of the 11 collected samples returned positive on September 25, 2020.
"The presence of naegleria fowleri, which can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, was identified in three of 11 tests of the water supply, posing an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life," said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, according to CBS News.
Residents of Lake Jackson, Texas, have been warned about using tap water after a deadly brain-eating microbe was found in the city's public water supply.https://t.co/3qZPwv6Axm— BBC World Service (@bbcworldservice) September 27, 2020
In light of the events, authorities issued a disaster declaration and asked people not to use tap water except for flushing toilets.
The public was asked to avoid the water from entering the nose while showering. This is particularly because the amoeba usually infects people after entering into the body through the nose. It then travels into the brain.
According to the Daily Mail, 90 to 95 people infected by the amoeba are found to die. Children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems are "particularly vulnerable" to the amoeba. Authorities also told the public that the entire water system would be flushed and tested before encouraging its usage.
The governor of Texas issued a disaster declaration on Sunday for a Gulf Coast county where a 6-year-old boy died after being infected by a brain-eating amoeba and the organism was found in the water supply. pic.twitter.com/oBDq8Lj9Pn— Tony News Network (@TNN_PH) September 28, 2020
Eight communities in Texas were initially warned against using the water, according to BBC News. However, the warning was lifted on September 26, 2020, in all communities except Lake Jackson.
"After extensive conversations with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as well as ensuring that Brazosport Water Authority has an adequate disinfectant residual, a determination has been made that there is no safety issue for BWA's distribution system," stated The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to ABC News.
The city of more than 27,000 residents was instructed to use the water only after its safety was ensured. Till then, they are asked to boil water before using it for drinking purposes.
Disaster Declaration Issued For Southeast Texas County After Brain-Eating Amoeba Found In Water Supply Of City https://t.co/4E0H0JQZzw— Abdulsatar Bochnak (@AbdulsatarBoch1) September 27, 2020
"Lake Jackson residents are still urged to follow the Do not Use Water Advisory until the water system has been adequately flushed and samples indicate that the water is safe to use. It is not known at this time how long this make(sic) take," continued the statement.
Texas Governor urged people from Lake Jackson to abide by the guidelines issued by the authorities. "The state of Texas is taking swift action to respond to the situation and support the communities whose water systems have been impacted by this amoeba," Abbott said.
"I urge Texans in Lake Jackson to follow the guidance of local officials and take the appropriate precautions to protect their health and safety as we work to restore safe tap water in the community," he continued, according to ABC News.
According to CNN, local residents in the city of Lake Jackson can receive a free case of water while the issue gets sorted.
Meanwhile, from 2009 to 2018 about 34 cases of Naegleria fowleri infections were reported in the United States. Among them, 30 people caught the infection through recreational water. The CDC stated that the occurrence of the infection is rare but it is fatal. According to the CDC, 145 people were infected from 1962 to 2018 and only four survived.