Brain-Eating Amoeba Found In Brazosport Water Authority Supply


AUSTIN, TX — Brazosport Water Authority users late Friday were informed of the presence of the brain-eating amoeba naegleria fowleri in the water supply, prompting a « do not use » advisory across the water treatment plant’s service area.

The advisory covers the Texas water authority’s entire service area — including the cities of Lake Jackson; Freeport; Angleton; Brazoria; Richwood; Oyster Creek; Clute; and Rosenburg. The water plant also services the Dow Chemical Co. along with the Clemens and Wayne Scott prison units located in greater Houston and southwest of Houston, respectively, according to a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality advisory issued just before 10:45 p.m. on Friday.

Regulators saidt the water authority was first notified of the amoeba presence at 9:30 p.m. Brazosport Water Authority is a water treatment plant in Lake Jackson, Texas, within the greater Houston metropolitan area.

« The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at the direction of the Governor’s Office, is working with Brazosport Water Authority to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, » officials wrote in the advisory.

In a do not use water advisory, impacted residents are urged not to drink or use the tap water from the impacted system — for any purpose for the duration of the advisory — including for the purposes of bathing. Flushing the toilet is safe, regulators noted.

« The do not use advisory will remain in place until the water system has been adequately flushed and samples indicate that the water is safe to use, » regulators wrote. « It is not known at this time how long this may take, but the health and safety of the public water system’s customers is TCEQ’s priority. »

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, naegleria fowleri causes the disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis, according to the CDC website.

However, CDC officials noted people cannot get infected from ingesting contaminated water: « You cannot get infected from drinking water contaminated with Naegleria, » officials wrote. « You can only be infected when contaminated water goes up into your nose. »

Such nasal entry typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, such as lakes and rivers, CDC officials noted. The Naegleria fowleri ameba are then able to travel up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue, officials wrote.

« In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or contaminated tap water) enters the nose, for example when people submerge their heads or cleanse their noses during religious practices, and when people irrigate their sinuses (nose) using contaminated tap water, » CDC experts wrote. « Naegleria fowleri has not been shown to spread via water vapor or aerosol droplets (such as shower mist or vapor from a humidifier). »

Naegleria is an ameba (single-celled living organism) commonly found in warm freshwater (for example, lakes, rivers, and hot springs) and soil, according to the CDC page. Naegleria fowleri is the only species that infects people, officials added.

The Brazosport Water Authority is a political subdivision of The State of Texas created by House Bill 650 to provide wholesale potable water to its seven member cities, the pair of prison farms and Dow Chemical, according to information found on its website. Brazosport Water Authority’s water source is the Brazos River via the Harris and Brazoria reservoirs, according to the website.

More information will be made available on Facebook and Twitter. Patch will update as more details are known.


Brazosport Water Authority, Brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria, Lake Jackson, Brazoria County

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