Residents of Lake Jackson in the US state of Texas were warned not to use tap water after a deadly brain-eating microbe was found in the city’s public water supply. In a recent advisory, local authorities said that they did not know how long it would take to thoroughly disinfect the water, BBC reported.
A test conducted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found that the city’s water contained Naegleria fowleri — a microscopic amoeba that can cause a deadly infection in the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. The infection is almost always fatal.
Residents of Lake Jackson and its surrounding towns — Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute, and Rosenberg — were warned on Friday not to use tap water for anything other than flushing toilets until the central water supply was completely disinfected, AP reported.
On Saturday, the warning was lifted for all towns except Lake Jackson. Local authorities later said that the cities’ residents could resume using tap water, but urged them to boil it before drinking. They were also directed to ensure that the water does not go up to their nose while showering or bathing, BBC reported.
The infection typically travels to the brain through the nose and occurs when people go swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers. So far the rare infection has been contracted by less than 40 people in the United States.
An investigation into the city’s central water supply was carried out earlier this month after a six-year-old boy contracted the illness and passed away, Lake Jackson City Manager Modesto Mundo told reporters.
Lake Jackson officials warned that children, the elderly, and people with weak immunity are “particularly vulnerable” to the disease. They added that the contaminated water was currently being flushed out and tests will soon be conducted to ensure the water is safe to use.
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