Brain-eating amoeba found in water supply of several Houston-area cities

Eight Texas cities near the Gulf of Mexico have been placed under a 'do not use water' advisory

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With unrelenting racial tensions, a devastating global pandemic and the threat of financial collapse hovering over the U.S., it would seem that 2020 couldn’t get any worse.

But a new calamity has befallen several cities in Texas’ Greater Houston metropolitan area that are under a “do not use water” advisory due to fears that a deadly brain-eating amoeba is lurking in their tap water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, is usually found in warm freshwater and soil. It tends to infect people when the contaminated water enters the body through the nose and then travels to the brain where it can cause a rare and debilitating disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Nageleria fowleri, more widely known as th “brain-eating amoeba,” can be found in lakes, rivers and soil and can cause a rare infection fo the brain. (via CDC)

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The infection is typically fatal and often occurs when people go swimming in warm freshwater places such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs in warmer parts of the country. Although it is rare, the CDC says that Naegleria fowleri infections may also occur when contaminated tap water and water from “inadequately chlorinated swimming pools” enters the nose.

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On Friday night, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality warned the Brazosport Water Authority of the potential contamination of its water supply by Naegleria fowleri. It also issued an advisory warning people not to use tap water for any reason except to flush toilets in multiple cities south of Houston, including Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute and Rosenberg, Forbes reports.

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According the commission, the advisory will remain in place until the Brazosport authority’s water system has been thoroughly flushed and after tests show the system’s water is again safe to use.

The CDC reported that the first deaths from Naegleria fowleri found in tap water from treated U.S. public drinking water systems occurred in southern Louisiana in 2011 and 2013. The microbe was also found in 2003 in an untreated geothermal well-supplied drinking water system in Arizona.

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