Sept. 28 (UPI) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared Brazoria County, near Houston, as a disaster zone due to the emergence of a brain-eating amoeba in the water supply for Lake Jackson.
Abbott issued the declaration Sunday after a 6-year-old boy died this month and was found to have Naegleria fowleri, also known as “brain-eating amoeba.” It is a bacteria-eating microorganism that can cause a deadly brain infection called naegleriasis.
Health experts say the infection is extremely rare.
An advisory was issued Friday by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality warning residents throughout the Brazosport Water Authority against using tap water for anything but flushing the toilet.
“The presence of naegleria fowleri, which can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, was identified in 11 tests of the water supply, posing an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life, in Brazoria County,” Abbott’s declaration said.
Authorities advised Lake Jackson residents to boil water for use.
The boy’s death prompted tests of the water supply, as he was believed to have contracted the amoeba at a local splash pad or watering hose near his home. Officials closed the splash pad earlier this month and the city started testing the water.
The boy’s mother said he started complaining of a headache on Sept. 3 and developed a fever the following day. He died on Sept. 8.