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Brain-eating amoeba found in Texas’ water supply

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Sep 28, 2020 - 12:50 AM

MAYORS AND CITIES – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) on Friday has released a Do Not Use Water advisory in eight cities in Texas as a brain-eating amoeba was found on its water supply.

The advisory was issued for residents of Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute and Rosenberg for the presence of Naegleria fowleri, a warm water-loving amoeba found often in warm or hot freshwater.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Preventaion, infections caused by this amoeba are “rare and devastating.”

From 2005 to 2014, 35 infections were reported in the United States.

The advisory was first lifted in all areas except Lake Jackson on Saturday after extensive conversations with TECQ, ensuring that the Brazosport Water Authority (BWA) has an adequate disinfectant residual.

The lifting of the advisory followed immediately for Lake Jackson but a boil water notice is still in effect along with additional precautionary measures.

“The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality continues to work with the city, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Environmental Protection Agency to resolve the ongoing water issue after Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri) was found in the city’s water system,” the TECQ said in a press release.

It said that the TCEQ and city officials are working on a plan to flush and disinfect the water system.

“Until the flushing and disinfecting process is complete, the city remains under the boil notice,” it furthers.

While the period of disinfection and flushing continues, it said that boiling the tap water makes it safe for drinking and cooking.

The TCEQ also urge the residents to do the following precautions recommended by the CDC:

  • Do not allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming.
  • Do not jump into or put your head under bathing water.
  • Do not allow children to play with hoses, sprinklers, or any toy or device that may accidentally squirt water up the nose.
  • Do run bath and shower taps and hoses for 5 minutes before use to flush out the pipes.
  • Do keep small, hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.
  • Do use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.
  • Do keep swimming pools adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection means:
    • Pools: free chlorine at 1-3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2-7.8; and
    • Hot tubs/spas: free chlorine 2-4 parts per million (ppm) or free bromine 4-6 ppm and pH 7.2-7.8.
  • Do place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running.
  • Do not top off by placing the hose in the body of the pool.

“The health and safety of the public is TCEQ’s priority. It is not yet known how long it will take to adequately flush the system and test the water to ensure it is completely safe to use,” it said.

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