الصحة العامة / CBS News, USA

Water now safe in city where boy died from brain-eating amoeba

Lake Jackson, Texas — A boil-water notice was lifted Tuesday from the drinking-water system of a Houston-area city where water tainted with a deadly, microscopic parasite was blamed for the death of a 6-year-old boy. Lake Jackson issued the notice late last month after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality determined that the city's public water supply didn't meet the TCEQ's minimum disinfection standards throughout the entire system, reports CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV.

But, the station says, Lake Jackson and the TCEQ confirmed on Monday and Tuesday that the water supply was negative for harmful bacteria and deemed the city's tap water safe to drink.

The TCEQ said disinfectant levels in the drinking water were documented to be above the state requirements.

The amoeba Naegleria fowleri can't infect people who drink water because it's killed by normal levels of stomach acid. However, people can get infected when water contaminated with the amoeba enters the body through the nose.

Once that happens, the amoeba can travel to the brain, where they may cause Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis.

Residents don't have to boil the city's water prior to drinking it or cooking with it but are still urged to avoid getting water up their noses, to reduce the risk of Naegleria fowleri infection, Lake Jackson and the TCEQ said.

Josiah McIntyre KHOU-TV

The boil-water notice was issued late last month after several days of flushing of the Brazosport Water Authority's water delivery system. The flushing was ordered after three of 11 samples of the Lake Jackson's water tested positive for the deadly flagellate.

One sample came from the home of Josiah McIntyre, the 6-year-old boy whom doctors said died last month after being infected with the brain-eating parasite, city officials said.

McIntyre's mother said he became ill with flu-like symptoms first, but his condition soon deteriorated to the point where he was having trouble standing and communicating, CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who issued a disaster declaration for Lake Jackson, has said all indications point to the case being isolated and that the suspected problem in the boy's death was traced back to a splash pad.

The TCEQ said it and the city will conduct daily monitoring for the microbe going forward.

The Brazosport Water Authority initially warned eight communities on Sept. 25 not to use tap water for any reason except to flush toilets. It lifted that warning the next day for all communities but Lake Jackson, where the authority's water treatment plant is situated. The advisory also was canceled for two state prisons and Dow Chemical's massive Freeport works.

The ban was lifted in Lake Jackson on Sept. 27 but replaced with the boil-water notice.

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