Child Dies from Amoeba After Playing at Splash Pad

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A child in Texas died after contracting a brain-eating amoeba at a community splash pad in the town of Lake Jackson.

Six-year-old Josiah McIntyre died Sept. 8 after he contracted the N. fowleri amoeba. After playing at the splash pad, McIntyre began having headaches, vomiting and a fever. Relatives said the boy was tested for strep, COVID-19 and other diseases before testing positive for the amoeba and by that time it was too late.

Josiah’s death comes after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was first alerted Friday evening to the presence of N. fowleri in the Brazosport Water Authority supply. Texas governor Greg Abbott has since declared a state of emergency for the area served by Lake Jackson’s water supply.

"It just rips your heart to know the loss of this life," Abbott said, according the Houston Chronicle. "This is a total tragedy for Josiah as well as his family. But we, as leaders in the state of Texas, must seize upon the strategy to make sure this never happens again."

Local authorities are now providing free drinking water for residents of the city of Lake Jackson, but authorities say the amoeba shouldn’t persist in the water supply for long.

"The risk is vanishingly small," Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the state's health services department, said. "There's just not going to be a chance that the water is going to contain this amoeba in the public water system after they finish the kinds of remediation efforts that they put forward." 

N. floweri is typically found in lakes in the South during the summer. Cases where the amoeba actually infects a person — typically through the nose— are rare.

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