Just about 30,000 residents in southeast Texas are required to boil up their water before using it. This comes following a 6-year-old boy who died recently in the wake of getting an uncommon, brain-eating amoeba from the local water supply.
It is a freshwater parasite that is found all over the world. Scientifically called Naegleria, and it is lethal, with a death rate higher than 97 percent. Its most recent casualty is Josiah McIntyre, only south of Houston.
Maria Castillo says her child probably got the amoeba from a local splash pad or the garden hose at their home in Lake Jackson. An unexpected surge of side effects that began with a migraine at home ended with brain seizures and strokes in the hospital.
His death and positive samples from the health department ordered into motion a Do Not Use water warning for eight area counties. That warning is presently only a boil order for Lake Jackson. On September 27th, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a disaster declaration accordingly.
Josiah's story is unusual. As per the CDC, from 1962 to 2018, there were 145 known cases—just four individuals survived.
"I'm lucky to be alive," said Kali Hardig, an Arkansas young lady who lived after fighting the brain-eating amoeba for 55 days.
Her story caused a ripple effect in 2013—making the undetectable microorganism famous.
"It's generally when individuals are sprinkling in the water when they will jump, they go tubing, whatever will strongly push water up to your nose," said Lou Kreidler, head of health with the Wichita Falls Health Department.
A couple of years prior, with a different case, administrator of Texas' Lake Arrowhead Keith Gauthier had this advisory:
"Stagnant water on warm days when there's no waves or wind, and the water's very hot in temperature, avoid those areas," said Gauthier. "And also another thing you could do to avoid contracting this is to wear a nose clip or plug your nose wherever you go underwater."
Josiah's mom says her greatest message to other families is to know about the symptoms—headache, fever, vomiting and changed mental state. She said it is uncommon. However, it is real, and it occurs.
5 Key Facts About Brain-eating Amoeba
People normally become infected from warm freshwater lakes and rivers.
The amoeba gets to the brain through the nose.
Contamination with this brain-eating amoeba is uncommon.
Not many individuals survive these contaminations.
There are a couple of things you can do to lower down your risk of contamination.
What Happens When Brain-eating Amoeba 'Eats' Your Brain?
Research suggests that the brain-eating amoeba infection can be stopped if it is detected as soon as possible. So what happens when you are infected with an N. fowleri?
The single-celled amoeba, which can be suspended in water or settled in soil, enters the body when water goes up the nose. After connecting to the mucous membranes in the nasal cavity, N. fowleri digs out into the olfactory nerve, the structure that allows our sense of smell and leads straight to the brain. It presumably takes more than a drop of fluid to trigger a Naegleria infection; infections, for the most part, happen in individuals who have been participating in water sports or different activities that may strongly fill the nose with lots of water—diving, waterskiing, and wakeboarding.
For reasons unknown, "brain-eating" is a pretty precise portrayal of what the amoeba does. After arriving at the olfactory bulbs, N. fowleri devours the tissue using suction-cup-like structures on its surface. This damage prompts the primary symptoms—loss of smell and taste—around five days after the contamination sets in.
From that point, the microorganisms move to the rest of the brain, first eating up the defensive covering that encompasses the central nervous system. When the body sees that something is not right, it sends immune cells to battle the infection, making the encompassing area inflamed. As opposed to the loss of brain tissue, this inflammation contributes most to the early symptoms of headache, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. Neck stiffness specifically is owing to inflammation, as the swelling around the spinal cord makes it difficult to use the muscles.
As N. fowleri eats more tissue and infiltrates further into the brain, the optional side effects set in. They include dizziness, hallucinations, confusion, and seizures. The brain's frontal lobes related to planning and emotional control will be affected the most because of the olfactory nerve.
What causes death is not the loss of grey issue; however, the skull's excessive pressure from the irritation and swelling identified with the body's battle against the infection. Expanding pressure powers the brain down into where the brain stem meets the spinal cord, in the end, cutting off the association between the two. Most patients die from the subsequent respiratory failure under about fourteen days after symptoms start.
It Takes Months To Clear Texas' Lake Jackson of Brain-Eating Amoeba
An official has stated that it will take 60 days to guarantee that a brain-eating amoeba is cleared from a major Houston-area water system. The state has now taken to distributing bottled water so residents can prevent exposure to the one-celled organism that seems to have just taken one life. The Texas Division of Emergency Management had already allotted 6,500 cases of free bottled water.