Six year old boy dies from brain-eating amoeba


Walt Brunson

  Most Americans take the safety of their water supply for granted. One of those Americans was six-year-old Josiah McIntyre who was recently killed by a deadly brain infection in Lake Jackson, Texas. 

   In an interview with Inside Edition, Josiah’s mother recalls, “Friday he was vomiting, throwing up, and still the headache, but kids get sick. It’s normal.” 

   Josiah was finally taken to the emergency room where he was found to have severe brain swelling. He died two days later.

   A brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria Fowleri was found in the water supply of Lake Jackson, Texas after Josiah’s death.  The CDC tested eleven samples of city water, including the McIntyre’s home hose, a play fountain Josiah had recently been to, and a fire hydrant closest to the fountain. All three of these locations came back positive for Naegleria Fowleri, according to a news release from the City of Lake Jackson.

  Naegleria Fowleri is a parasitic amoeba that enters the brain through the nose. The infection rarely occurs; no more than eight cases per year have been reported in the United States in the past decade. Unfortunately, it is almost always deadly. According to the CDC, four out of 148 infected in the last 60 years survived. The amoeba rapidly infects the brain and causes aggressive swelling. This can lead to coma, seizures, and hallucinations.

   This disease’s rarity is largely due to its spread. One can only become infected if contaminated water enters their nasal passages. The diseases cannot be contracted from simply drinking or touching the contaminated water.

   Josiah had recently been to a local play fountain, a prime location for water to enter a child’s nose. He could have likely played with his household hose that was also tested, and came back positive for Naegleria Fowleri.

    Governor Greg Abbot declared a state of disaster following the discovery of the amoeba in Brazoria county’s water supply. Brazosport Water Authority issued a Do Not Use Advisory for multiple cities serviced by them including Lake Jackson. The city of Lake Jackson also issued a boil water notice, advising residents to boil water before drinking or cooking with it and to alert the public of the death of Josiah. 

   City Manager Modesto Mundo notified citizens that a cleaning process was taking place in a recent new release, “City workers will convert the disinfectant used in the distribution system from chloramine to free chlorine.” 

   Citizens were also told to reduce water usage, “We are asking all city water customers to reduce outdoor water usage so that all available water resources can be devoted to flushing the system.”

   This means that vehicle washing, refilling pools, irrigation, hosing down structures, and dust control was restricted for residents. These restrictions will be in place until the flush and decontamination are completed. 

   Josiah’s mother claims that knowing what caused his death and that the city is doing everything in their power to eradicate the disease gives her closure from such a tragic event.