Warning issued after 'brain-eating amoeba' found in southeast Texas water supply

Posted at 10:53 AM, Sep 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-27 11:19:09-04

LAKE JACKSON, TX — A 'Do-Not-Use' water advisory sent to thousands of southeast Texas customers late Friday night and narrowed to the city of Lake Jackson over concerns about the presence of a "brain-eating amoeba" in the water supply has been lifted.

The City of Lake Jackson lifted its Do Not Use Water Advisory Saturday night, according to the TCEQ. A Boil Water Notice is now in effect along with additional precautionary measures that can be found here.

The city of Lake Jackson says the advisory was issued after the death of a 6-year-old boy that was hospitalized with the rare "brain-eating amoeba."

The amoeba, known as naegleria fowleri, prompted a do-not-use advisory for the Brazosport Water Supply.

The orders were originally issued Friday for all water in the cities of Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, the City of Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute, Rosenberg, Dow Chemical, TDCJ Clemens Unit and TDCJ Wayne Scott Unit.

On Saturday morning, the Brazosport Water Authority lifted the Do Not Use Water Advisory for all areas excluding Lake Jackson.

The advisory late Friday was initially issued for all BWA users out of an abundance of caution, according to TCEQ, but the issue has been narrowed to the city of Lake Jackson’s water distribution system.

The amoeba was suspected in the local water supply after 6-year-old Josiah McIntyre died Sept. 8, Lake Jackson City Manager Modesto Mundo told KTRK.

Three water samples out of 11 taken tested positive for genetic material related to naegleria fowleri, including a test of a water hose bib at McIntyre's home.

The other two positive tests were in samples taken from the civic center fountain and a fire hydrant, according to Mundo.

McIntyre played at the civic center splash pad in late August before becoming ill, according to KTRK.

The attraction was closed as a precaution on Sept. 8 after city officials were notified of his death.

Naegleria fowleri typically affects people when the contaminated water enters their body through their nose, according to the CDC.

It can travel to the brain and cause a condition known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare but highly lethal disease, according to health experts.

The CDC says people cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria fowleri.

Symptoms of the illness include severe frontal headaches, nausea, vomiting, fever and hallucinations.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says advisories will remain in place until the water system has been adequately flushed and samples indicate that the water is safe to use.