Residents in the Texan city of Lake Jackson were given a ‘Do Not Use’ warning for the city’s tap water supply after a deadly brain-eating amoeba was found in the water source.
Lake Jackson’s Mayor Sipple issued a disaster warning for the residents on Saturday afternoon.
A 6-years-old boy named Josiah McIntyre was admitted to a local hospital at the beginning of this month after he played in the water, which authorities believe was because naegleria fowleri – commonly called brain-eating amoeba – entered the child’s body, multiple media reports confirm.
McIntyre was admitted to a hospital where he died few days later on Sep. 7th. An investigation was lodged after medics suspected the casue of death to be the microbe.
The city’s water supplier Brazosport Water Authority system was investigated in private laboratories and the results came back negative initially, and on September 22 following a more elaborate probe with other authorities, the tests came positive for the presence of the deadly bug.
Authorities and medics know the child played with a hose in his house or at a splash pad in his neighborhood. Following his death, the splash pad was reportedly shut down.
CDC’s prelim investigations found the amoeba in Lake Jackson’s three out of eleven locations which were tested, including the child victim’s hose bib, and Lake Jackson Civic Center Splash Pad, KCENTV reported.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality then issued a ‘Do Not Use’ warning for the city’s water supply where 27k residents live, until the work of disinfecting is done, which has no time limit, as per the report.
Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating microbe is quite rare in the US with only 34 reported cases between 2009 and 2018. But the less frequency is underscored by the amoeba’s high fatality rate of 90-95%. Meaning, the vast majority affected will die.
The microbe is commonly found in water supply around the world, and is most fatal when it enter the body via nose and travels the brain.
The amoeba cannot infect if swallowed and does not transfer from person-to-pern, CDC states.
Experts are weighing in the possible source of the amoeba, and the city’s principal water supplier, the Brazosport Water Authority system has been closed, which reportedly supplies 50% of the city, with the remaining rest drawing waters from wells.
Citizens who fall under the ‘Do Not Use’ restriction are being advised from not using the water supply for drinking, bathing or any other purpose, apart from flushing the toilet.
The advisory will continue to prevail for the city except for the city of Pearland, which does not fall in the advisory, Fox26 confirms. American retail giant Kroger has said it will supply Lake Jackson with fresh water while the advisory prevails.
Kroger Corporate Affairs Manager, Clara Campbell, said: “In light of the ‘do not use’ water advisory affecting areas of Southeast Texas, Kroger has deployed trucks containing 250 pallets of water to the stores that area, including Clute, Rosenberg, and Angleton to ensure the affected communities have access to supplies of water.”