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Texas Towns Discover Rare Amoeba

In late September, eight Texas cities were alerted to the presence of a brain-eating amoeba in the cities’ water supplies. This information has led to towns in southeast Texas to issue a disaster declaration. An advisory has been issued stating, “The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at the direction of the Governor’s Office is working with Brazosport Water Authority to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” CNN reports.

The amoeba is commonly found in soil, warm lakes, rivers, and hot springs according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, the amoeba has been the cause of the death of 6 year old Josiah McIntyre. The chance of becoming infected with the amoeba is rare but in these cases it can be dangerous. The state is currently in the process of disinfecting the water supply in southeast Texas. This process will take up to two or three months, according to Texas officials.

The executive director of the TCEQ remained concerned but informational during a press conference, saying, “The path forward for the citizens of Lake Jackson is not going to be one that’s short. We have to get through the boil water first, which could take two to three weeks, after that we have to get chlorine levels to a state that can burn the entire system, scour the system, and kill the amoebas. That could take up to an additional 60 days.”
Going forward, the CDC has said it will test Lake Jackson’s water once the process is complete to assure the safety of the water. Texas officials have stated that “all information points to this being isolated” according to CBS News.

Josiah McIntyre, the 6 year old boy who tragically passed away after being infected with the brain-eating parasite Naegleria fowleri, was said to have become ill with flu-like symptoms, according to his mother. His condition quickly worsened to the point where he was having trouble standing up and talking according to CBS Dallas. Shortly after this tragic event, Governor Greg Abbot issued a disaster declaration after testing revealed the water supply was infected with the brain-eating amoeba.

On Saturday, Sept. 26, environmental officials lifted the drinking water warning for Lake Jackson, stating that the infection is rare and can only affect residents if infected water enters the sinuses. Residents are cautioned to prevent water from getting into their nose when bathing, showering, swimming, and washing their face.

Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner John Hellerstedt declared that “You cannot get [the] infection from drinking the water” CBS reports.

Sources: CNN, CBS News, CBS Dallas.

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