Year-old dies from brain-eating amoeba

Tuesday, 29 Sep, 2020

Late Friday, the Texas Commission on Environment issued a warning to the Brazosport Water Authority, informing it of the possible contamination of its water supply by the brain-eating amoeba.

Residents are permitted to flush toilets, according to the statements.

Doctors have determined that this was caused by a bacterium known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is caused by the microscopic amoeba Naegleria fowleri.

The infection typically travels to the brain through the nose and occurs when people go swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers.

Officials are urging Lake Jackson residents to boil tap water for drinking and cooking. The results came back negative on September 14 for Naegleria fowleri, and the CDC was contacted for further water testing from the splash pad. Chlorine is more useful in deactivating certain types of bacteria that can make it hard for the systems to maintain a disinfectant residual, a commission statement said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people can not get infected by swallowing contaminated water, and it can not be passed from person to person.

Officials in Lake Jackson launched an investigation into the local water supply after they were notified about the boy's case in early September. Curiously, the agency states that people can not get infected if they swallow water contaminated with Naegleria fowleri.

In a statement, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said officials are "actively working on a plan to flush and disinfect the water system". The amoeba, which can cause an infection of the brain, poses "an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life", the declaration reads. The CDC states that PAM, the disease caused by Naegleria fowleri, is hard to detect because it progresses so rapidly that diagnosis is usually made after death.

The authority's water source is the Brazos River, and it stores the water in two reservoirs.

The amoeba can cause an infection of the brain, which is usually fatal.

Traces were also found in a fountain in the town centre and in a fire hydrant in a town just one hour away from the major city of Houston, said Modesto Mundo, a city official.

KHOU-TV reports that the six-year-old boy likely caught the infection from a public splash pad or a garden hose, and the subsequent tests on the water supply confirmed the presence of the amoeba in the Lake Jackson water supply. All but two of those infections were fatal, and of 133 people known to be infected in the U.S. since 1962, only three survived. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these types of infections are rare but nearly always fatal.