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A 6-year-old boy in Texas died earlier this month after being hospitalized with a brain-eating amoeba, causing officials to prompt warnings in the state that the source of the amoeba was the water supply.
Josiah McIntyre, 6, died on Sept. 8 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, according to NBC News. His mother, Maria Castillo, told the outlet that doctors said her son’s cause of death was a brain-eating amoeba.
Jenn Jacome, a spokeswoman for the hospital, confirmed the child’s death to NBC News but could not discuss further details.
“He was an active little boy. He was a really good big brother. He just loved and cared about a lot of people,” Castillo said at a benefit for her late son, according to local news outlet KTRK.
“Texas Children’s did do everything that they could. No one left my son’s side. There was always a nurse or a doctor at the side of my son’s bed. Any fear that I had was able to be answered,” Castillo said. “I’m angry and upset and sad and heartbroken. It really means a lot to me because we want to know as a family for peace of mind. I know it doesn’t bring him back. The fact that we know how he got it, how he contracted it, gives us peace of mind.”
The city of Lake Jackson said in a statement that they identified the “rare and often fatal brain-eating amoeba” as Naegleria fowleri, NBC News reported.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, Naegleria fowleri is most commonly found in freshwater (such as lakes and rivers) and soil. It typically infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose.
The city also reportedly said that they narrowed down the source of McIntyre’s amoeba to two options: a water play area called the Lake Jackson Civic Center Splash Pad and a home lawn hose.
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According to CNN, an Do Not Use Water Advisory has been issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to residents served by the Brazosport Water Authority.
Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute and Rosenberg were all issued the warning, as well as the Dow Chemical plant in Freeport and the Clemens and Wayne Scott Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections facilities, CNN reported.
According to a statement from the TCEQ on Twitter, the advisory has since been lifted in all but one location, Lake Jackson, where officials have issued a disaster declaration.
According to the CDC, Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, and most are fatal. Initial symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, while later symptoms that occur before death include seizures, hallucinations, and coma.
Between 1962 and 2018, 145 people were infected with Naegleria fowleri, and only four survived, the CDC said.