Great Britain

Texas city performs 60 day water purge following child's death by brain-eating amoeba

A city in Texas where a six-year-old boy is thought to have been killed by a brain-eating amoeba is being forced to purge its water system for 60 days to ensure the safety of its supply.

Doctors believe that six-year-old Josiah McIntyre died on 8 September from the ingestion of naegleria fowleri, a deadly brain eating amoeba which he may have contracted either from the hose at his home.

Following the sudden death, city officials launched an investigation that revealed the deadly organism in three of 11 water samples taken in the city, a community of about 26,000 residents 55 miles south of Houston, and issued a disaster declaration.

City Manager Modesto Mundo of Lake Jackson said that one of the samples that revealed naegleria fowleri came from the home of Josiah’s family.

Mr Mundo said that city's water utility will be trying to rid the system of “old water” for 60 days so that it can be disinfected and replaced with fresh water.

Naegleria fowleri, commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain when inhaled through the nose, which is often fatal. You cannot become infected from swallowing water contaminated with the amoeba.

Josiah's mother said on Monday that her son first started showing flu-like symptoms but quickly deteriorated. Despite doctor’s attempts to alleviate swelling in the child’s brain and save his life, the boy died.

“Josiah loved to be outside and he loved to be with his sister and his cousin,” Ms Castillo told the Associated Press. “He was a lovable little boy and loved everybody he was around.”

An advisory was initially put out by the Brazosport Water Authority to eight communities on Friday warning them not to use any tap water. 

The advisory was eventually lifted everywhere apart from Lake Jackson, the authority's water treatment plant is situated, on Saturday.  

Lake Jackson’s advisory was eventually relaxed but residents were still advised to boil any tap water before using and avoid ways contaminated tap water could enter their nose or allow children to “play unsupervised with hoses and sprinklers”.

“Do not allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming," they said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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