The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) warned residents in eight Texas cities to stop using tap water, except to flush toilets, due to the deadly brain-eating microbe last Friday evening. The “Do Not Use Water” advisory applies to the residents of Lake Jackson, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Freeport, Clute, Oyster Creek, and Rosenberg, Texas.
On September 25, representatives from the Texas Department of Health and Services tested the samples from the splash pad, resulting in positive contamination in three out of 11 water samples. The brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, first contaminated southeast Texas water supply, leading to a disaster declaration.
“The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at the direction of the Governor’s Office is working with Brazosport Water Authority to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”TCEQ advisory
The advisory noted that the disinfection of the water supply is ongoing. The TCEQ eventually lifted the warning on Saturday except on Lake Jackson, Texas, which has 27,000 residents.
Although infections are rare in the US, with 34 cases from 2009 to 2018, the amoeba can cause brain diseases that are usually fatal. It usually infects a person when the contaminated water enters the body through the nose, traveling to the brain.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Naegleria fowleri and other brain-eating amoebas are commonly growing in soil, rivers, warm lakes, and hot springs. It can also germinate in unchlorinated and poorly maintained pools and from industrial plants warm water discharges.
According to the CDC, from 1962 to 2018, out of 145 people infected by Naegleria fowleri, only four people survived. The first deaths occurred in southern Louisiana in 2011 and 2013, due to contamination on treated US public drinking water systems.
The TCEQ is currently conducting tests on chlorine levels in Lake Jackson City’s water source and affirmed that it would take about three days to sanitize the system. In the meantime, Residents of the said city can receive a free water from the town.
Authorities also noted that the locals could use water by boiling before drinking and preventing the water from contaminating their noses while taking a bath. The CDC also implied that infections do not happen by swallowing water and can not be passed by human contact.
The city also alerted that people who have weakened immune systems, such as children and elderly people, are “particularly vulnerable” to infection. Symptoms include headaches, fever, stiff neck, vomiting, and nausea, where most infected people die within a week.