A Texas town’s water which contained a rare, brain-eating amoeba that killed a 6-year-old boy will require months to disinfect before it’s safe, officials said.
Toby Baker, the executive director for the state’s Commission on Environmental Quality, said the process to clean the water could take as long as three months following the death of Josiah McIntyre in Lake Jackson, a suburb of Houston, CBS reported.
“The path forward for the citizens of Lake Jackson is not going to be one that’s short,” Baker said Tuesday at a press conference.
“We have to get through the boil water first, which could take two to three weeks, after that we have to get chlorine levels to a state that can burn the entire system, scour the system, and kill the amoebas. That could take up to an additional 60 days.”
McIntyre died earlier this month after contracting the amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri, which can be deadly when it enters the body through the nose, causing a condition that destroys brain tissue. He had played in a public splash pad and with a sprinkler at home before his death.
Several local water supply sites also tested positive for the dangerous parasite, officials said.
Environmental officials initially warned people not to use tap water for any reason except to flush toilets, but later lifted the advisory and now insist that it’s safe when boiled.
Residents are still encouraged to prevent water from getting into their nose when bathing, showering, swimming and washing their faces.
Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt stressed Tuesday that the disease that killed McIntyre is rare, and that the only way to contract it is to have infected water go up into your sinuses “and basically then lodge there at the top of the sinuses and work its way from there through a membrane … that goes into the brain,” CBS reported.
“There is no other way to get it,” he said. “You cannot get that infection from drinking the water.”