LAKE JACKSON - Texas Governor Greg Abbott says a splash pad is to blame for the death of a 6-year-old boy killed by a brain-eating amoeba in Lake Jackson. Abbott told reporters Tuesday the splash pad has been shut down.
Meanwhile, the Army spent the day handing out thousands of cases of water. The TCEQ says the boil water notice in Lake Jackson could last two to three weeks.
The boil water notice was issued in response to the deadly amoeba which killed 6-year-old Josiah McIntyre, but state health services officials say it is impossible for someone to be infected by the amoeba through drinking water.
“You cannot get that infection from drinking the water or merely showering in it,” said John Hellerstedt, MD, commissioner of the DSHS. “We know the only way that you can get it is to have that contaminated water go up your sinuses and lodge there at the top of the sinuses and work its way from there through a membrane if you will—a bony membrane that goes into the brain—and that’s where the infection starts.”
The CDC reports just 34 people were infected by the amoeba in the last decade nationwide.
“The risk is vanishingly small,” said Hellerstedt. “You can never say zero, but really it’s zero.”
That’s not stopping Lake Jackson residents from taking every precaution to avoid it.
“Right now I’m pretty worried,” one driver told Fox 26 as he picked up a case of water from the Army’s distribution center. “I have a 14-month-old son.”
“We’re just doing bottled water for consumption and for cooking,” another driver said.
Those accepting the Army’s water donations said they couldn’t find water in the stores, as shelves were going bare.
Meanwhile, TCEQ is working with the city to convert the water system’s disinfectant from chloramine to chlorine. “We have to get chlorine levels to a state that can burn the entire system, scour the system, and kill the amoebas,” said Toby Baker, TCEQ executive director. “That could take up to an additional 60 days.”
DSHS officials say the amoeba is common in bodies of water in Texas, yet there have been no infections in recent memory in the state until Josiah’s death this month, which shows how rare and unlikely it is to become infected.