The death of a young boy has sent shockwaves through eight Houston-area communities. Six-year-old Josh McIntyre of Lake Jackson, Texas died after contracting a highly rare microbe that entered his brain. The microbe, Naegleria fowleri, is a free-living microscopic amoeba. It’s generally found in warm freshwater and soil, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Surrounding Communities Under “Boil Water” Notice
Nearly three weeks after the young boy passed away, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality instructed the Brazosport Water Authority to issue a “Do Not Use” water advisory for all customers, including the town of Lake Jackson where the boy was exposed to the microbe. This comes after initial tests of the water supply by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed the microbe present in locations around the boy’s home. The CDC tested 11 locations, and three tested positive for the deadly microbe, including the Lake Jackson Civic Center Splash Pad where the boy played days before he died.
The boil water notice was put in place late in the evening of September 25, 2020 and was reversed the following day for all communities except for the city of Lake Jackson. Lake Jackson’s 27,000 residents were instructed to continue boiling their water, and were advised that they could pick up cases of bottled water at no charge from the city. The advisory is slated to continue until the water authority’s system has been thoroughly flushed and test samples of the water show it’s safe to use.
City manager Modesto Mundo is working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to “super chlorinate” the water supply system for up to 60 days in order to ensure that the water is safe for residents.
About Naegleria fowleri
Naegleria fowleri is a species of amoeba, which are single-celled organisms, that is found in freshwater and soil. It’s a naturally occurring microbe that contaminates water and enters the body through the nose. From there, this amoeba travels to the brain and can cause a rare, deadly disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Infection generally happens when someone goes swimming or diving in freshwater bodies such as lakes and rivers, although it can also occur in pools. Despite its deadly nature, you cannot become infected by the microbe by drinking water that has been contaminated with it.
Though extremely dangerous, contamination by Naegleria fowleri is extremely rare, with only 34 cases reported to the CDC between 2010 and 2019. The majority of cases originate in recreational waters, and this is what investigators say happened in this case.
The boy’s mother first reported flu-like symptoms, but those worsened to a point where the boy couldn’t stand well and had trouble communicating. According to the CDC, initial symptoms tend to start five days after infection. These symptoms can include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Later symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people or surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After these symptoms start, this aggressive disease causes death within 5 days.
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Another Boy Faced Same Microbe Earlier This Year
On August 2, 2020, Tanner Lake Wall, a 13-year-old vacationing in Palatka, Florida died after being exposed to Naegleria fowleri. The boy had been camping near a lake with his parents and twin sisters about a week before his death. The boy’s mother said that the water in the lake appeared to be clear, so she let her son swim in it.
Despite being brought to the hospital soon after he showed symptoms, the boy was misdiagnosed by doctors, who said he had a strep throat and released him from the hospital.
After the boy’s death, the lake at the campground was closed and a petition has been started to install warning signs around the lake.
We Can Help
It’s tragic when anyone passes away, especially in ways that people don’t often understand. Toxic, contaminated water is a problem throughout our country, and water contaminated with microbes and other dangerous parasites is no different. If your loved one has passed away or gotten sick from a parasite, lead in water, or other contaminated water, our team of experienced attorneys may be able to help.
Call us for a free legal consultation today at (800) 934-6555. You don’t need any money to hire us, and we don’t get paid unless we secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf. Help us hold those tasked with keeping water safe and clean responsible.