Boil your water to escape brain-eating amoeba

Texas officials declare a disaster after the deadly microbe was detected in drinking water.


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brain-eating amoeba
Naegleria fowleri
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Residents of one Texas county remained on high alert Monday after a deadly brain-eating amoeba was detected in their water supply and tied to the death of 6-year-old boy this month.

On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in Brazoria county following the sickening revelation about the lethal microbe.

The latest health advisory from the state urged residents of the city of Lake Jackson within the county to boil their water before using it after Naegleria fowleri was found in their water system.

A previous warning that extended to other cities in Brazoria County said not to use the water at all, but that warning was lifted, and now only the boil advisory remains in effect for Lake Jackson.

As he announced the state of disaster in Brazoria County, Gov. Abbott said that three of 11 water tests in the county found N. fowleri, “posing an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life.”

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it was alerted Friday evening to the presence of N. fowleri in the Brazosport Water Authority supply.

Environmental officials initially warned all users of Brazosport’s system not to use the water, but said later Saturday that “the issue has been narrowed to the city of Lake Jackson’s water distribution system.”

Authorities “are actively working on a plan to flush and disinfect the water system,” but it was unknown how long that will take, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said.

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

“He was an active little boy,” Josiah’s mother, Maria Castillo, told KTRK-TV. “He was a really good big brother. He just loved and cared about a lot of people.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, Josiah’s relatives said he was tested for strep, COVID-19 and other diseases when he got sick with a fever, headaches and vomiting, but by the time doctors realized it was N. fowleri, it was too late.

“We just want people to be aware that it’s out there,” his grandmother, Natalie McIntyre, said Saturday during a fundraiser, the Chronicle reported.

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