Texas Officials Declare Disaster as Brain-Eating Amoeba Infiltrate Water Sources

On Saturday, officials in Lake Johnson, Texas, issued a disaster declaration following the contamination of drinking water sources by the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria Fowleri. The city is currently under a “Do Not Use Water” advisory order and has intensified efforts to get an emergency declaration from the state.

In its emergency request to state Governor Greg Abbot, city officials cited threats to life, health, and property as a result of the widespread contamination of its drinking water sources. It said the potential damage that could result were substantial, including ill health and death.

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.

Earlier, the authority had warned the eight cities of Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute, and Rosenburg not to use tap water for any other reason than to flush their toilets. Included in its “Do Not Use Water” Advisory was the Dow Chemical plant in Freeport and the Clemens, and Wayne Scott Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections facilities.

However, on Saturday, it relaxed the warning for every other city except Lake Jackson. The city, with a population of more than 27,000, houses the authority’s water treatment plant. The advisory was also rescinded for the Dow Chemical plant and the correctional facilities.

The commission said the advisory would continue to apply pending when it has been able to flush out every contamination from water sources effectively, and when tests carried out on water samples show that there are no traces of the amoeba in the water. It is still unclear how long these tests will last, and when tap water will be safe to use again. It is noteworthy that the authority derives its water source from the Brazos River.

Lake Jackson City officials said the city became aware of the amoeba after a 6-year-old boy contracted the microbe and died earlier this month. Preliminary investigations showed that two possible water sources could be the culprits, as these were the only places he could have been exposed to the microbe. The first suspect was the Lake Jackson Civic Center Splash Pad, and the second being a hose at his home.

When a private lab carried out tests on both sources, the initial result came back negative for the amoeba. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) got involved, and about three of the eleven samples it tested came back positive.

According to the CDC, Naegleria fowleri infections are rare but fatal. Infections typically result from swimming or diving in warm freshwaters such as lakes and rivers. Its primary entry point into the body is through the nose. Only 34 infections were reported in the US between 2009 and 2018.

Source: cnn.com