Texas has stepped up efforts to tackle the threat of brain-eating amoeba in a coastal county water supply that killed a six-year-old boy earlier this month.
On Sunday, Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for Brazoria County after Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic amoeba, was found in a Lake Jackson water source in the greater Houston area.
The unicellular organisms are typically found in freshwater and warm soil and usually infect humans when they enter the body through the nose and reach the brain, where, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). causes rare and often fatal infections.
Although Naegleria fowleri infection is rare, the mortality rate is over 97 percent. According to the CDC, only four out of 145 people known to be infected in the US survived from 1962 to 2018.
Officials at Lake Jackson opened an investigation into local water supplies after being informed of the boy’s case in early September.
His family has identified two possible sources of water in Lake Jackson where the boy could be exposed to amoeba.
According to a city government statement, water testing at this and other locations revealed Naegleria fowleri in three of the eleven samples.
Officials urged Lake Jackson residents to boil tap water for drinking and cooking. Brain-eating amoebae have been found across the United States, including Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida.