Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued a proclamation mobilizing a rapid government response after the discovery of a deadly amoeba in a local water supply that killed a child.
In his disaster declaration, Abbott states that naegleria fowleri was identified in three of 11 tests of the water in Lake Jackson, Texas. The amoeba, which can cause an infection of the brain, poses “an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life,” the declaration reads.
Abbott’s proclamation authorizes the use of “all available resources of state government” to cope with the public health crisis.
Typically found in warm freshwater and soil, naegleria fowleri can infect people if contaminated water enters the nose. The amoeba then travels to the brain, leading to a condition called amebic meningoencephalitis, a deadly brain infection. Symptoms include vomiting, hallucinations and seizures, with death usually occurring within one or two weeks of the infection’s onset.
Tragically, a 6-year-old boy died earlier this month from the rare infection. It’s believed that he contracted the amoeba from either a gardening hose or a splash pad at Lake Jackson’s civic center.
On Friday, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued an alert about potential water contamination and advised eight communities not to consume tap water. The advisory was later lifted for all towns and cities, excluding Lake Jackson.