Disaster Declaration Issued Re: Lake Jackson Water Contamination

Texas Governor Abbot issued a disaster declaration for Brazoria County yesterday, 9/27/2020, due to findings of Naegleria fowleri in the Lake Jackson water supply. The disaster declaration indicates that the “brain-eating amoeba” was found in three out of eleven water samples tested. Residents of the county are also urged to boil tap water before any use.   Federal, State, and local agencies are working to remedy the danger.

Who is Affected by the Disaster Declaration?

The State of Disaster Order has been issued for all of  Brazoria County. While the City of Lake Jackson’s water supply is the only city specifically named as having identified the amoeba in the water, there are 26 other cities in Brazoria County. Pearland, Tx is the largest city affected by this order.  Residents should pay close attention to boil orders and safety instructions recommended by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ).

What is Naegleria Fowleri?

Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba that contaminates water and can cause serious injury or death if it enters the body through the nose and finds its way to the host’s brain. It causes a likely fatal infection known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. It is usually found in fresh water such as lakes or streams. It is more commonly found in warm water and case reports have been rare. There is no cure for the condition which typically leads to death. According to the CDC, the survival rate in the United States is less than 3%.

How Does the Brain-Eating Amoeba Get to the Brain?

The amoeba gets to the brain by traveling up the nasal canal. Past cases have most commonly been reported after swimming in warm water.  The amoeba is most likely inhaled through the nose when swimming or diving and makes it’s way to the brain.  Other cases have reported the amoeba infecting its host from contaminated tap water being used in a neti pot to cleanse the sinuses and, in one case, from contaminated water used with a slip and slide.  Water entering the nose while showering or bathing is also a risk when tap water is contaminated.

What Symptoms Does the Brain-Eating Amoeba Cause?

Within a few days of exposure, a person infected by primary amoebic meningoencephalitis will typically experience severe frontal headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fever. This develops into stiffness in the neck muscles, seizures, and an altered mental state including hallucinations, confusion, loss of balance, and/or coma. Ultimately, the host usually passes away in a matter of days to a few weeks.

For more information and updates on the boil orders and disaster declaration, please visit the TECQ website cited above. Please pray for the safety of those living in Brazoria County.