Disaster Declared After 6-Year-Old Boy Dies From Brain-Eating Amoeba After Playing in Splash Pad

This year has been a rollercoaster. It started out normal enough, but as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world, it seems that more and more problems have been appearing. Remember murder hornets? Then there were those hurricanes. It doesn’t seem to end.

COVID-19 is not the only illness out there. Health officials are warning about the upcoming flu season, but even before that starts, we have another health crisis. 

In Texas, a 6-year-old boy named Josiah McIntyre visited a splash pad where he played happily. A few days later, he told his mom that he wasn’t feeling well. It was a Thursday. He had a headache. The next day, on Friday, his symptoms increased to vomiting and a fever.

His mom wasn’t overly concerned at that point. Kids get sick, after all. These symptoms weren’t anything too unusual. 

On Saturday, she took him to the hospital. The doctors did a COVID test which came up negative. They weren’t sure what was wrong. 

On Sunday, she took her son to Texas Children’s. After several tests, doctors finally discovered the source of the boy’s symptoms, a brain eating amoeba. The source of the amoeba was the splash pad where McIntyre played just days earlier. 

A “Do Not Use” water advisory was issued for the surrounding area in Texas. Currently, most of that advisory has been lifted, but it remains in Lake Jackson, where McIntyre contracted the amoeba.

Watch the video below for more details about this tragic story and to hear from the boy’s mother.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said in a statement, “Lake Jackson residents are still urged to follow the Do not Use Water Advisory until the water system has been adequately flushed and samples indicate that the water is safe to use. It is not known at this time how long this make take.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration and said, “The state of Texas is taking swift action to respond to the situation and support the communities whose water systems have been impacted by this amoeba. I urge Texans in Lake Jackson to follow the guidance of local officials and take the appropriate precautions to protect their health and safety as we work to restore safe tap water in the community.”

The problem is not drinking water but accidentally getting water in your nose, like when you dive into a pond or lake, or apparently when you play at a splash pad. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria.”

Dr. Todd Ellerin is the director of infectious disease at South Shore Health in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. He explained to ABC News that the amoeba “travels up the nose and through the cribriform plate – a little sieve separating the nasal cavity and the brain. When it reaches the brain, it causes Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis, or PAM for short, with seizures, headaches, personality changes and confusion. Most people with PAM have died – and unfortunately two-thirds of the cases are in otherwise healthy children.”