A 6-year-old boy in Lake Jackson, Texas, died earlier this month from an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba that was found in the water of splash fountain the boy had played in earlier.
Josiah Christopher McIntyre started complaining of a headache and other symptoms around September 3, his mother Maria Castillo told CNN Monday.
He then developed a fever and started vomiting. The next day Josiah was taken to the emergency room and was tested for flu, Covid-19, and strep, but all three were negative.
Castillo said she began to worry that his symptoms were not improving.
Finally, on September 6, Castillo took Josiah to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he was admitted to the neurological intensive care unit. He underwent a number of CT scans that showed swelling in the brain, which continued to worsen.
“Late Monday night or very early Tuesday morning they told us they believed it was this brain-eating amoeba,” Castillo said.
“They explained the rarity of this amoeba and that out of the few cases that there have been very little survivors and that there was no treatment.”
The little boy was suffering from primary amoebic mengioencephalitis, which is caused by an infection of the single-celled amoeba Naegleria fowleri. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these types of infections are rare but almost always fatal.
Josiah died on the evening of September 8, according to his mother. Castillo said once he was removed from various medical machines, his heart eventually stopped beating.
The family is doing an autopsy and the results are pending.
An Astros fan is remembered by his favorite player
Josiah was a big Houston Astros fan and idolized Carlos Correa. Castillo said before he passed away the nurses gave him a jersey and a couple of baseballs and put on Correa highlights.
Through the power of social media, Correa and his wife found out about Josiah, and put up a message for him on his Instagram stories, but Josiah had unfortunately already passed away.
“Just to hear my son’s idol say my son’s name and wish us the best is amazing,” Castillo said.
“For them to take time out of their busy schedules, for him to take the time to say something to my family and I, that he heard about Josiah, says a lot about them and I’m grateful for that.”
Josiah’s infection prompts a disaster declaration
The same day Josiah passed, eight Texas cities were alerted to a brain-eating amoeba found in the water supply, but all were cleared except the city of Lake Jackson which issued a disaster declaration.
The city traced Josiah’s infection back to two possible sources: a water fountain “splash pad” outside the Lake Jackson Civic Center or water emitted from a hose at Josiah’s home, according to a statement from the city.
City officials said the splash pad was immediately closed and they hired a private lab to run a test on a five-gallon water sample from the fountain. The results came back negative on September 14 for Naegleria fowleri, and the CDC was contacted for further water testing from the splash pad.
Representatives from the Texas Department of Health Services collected water samples from the splash pad for testing by the CDC. On September 25, three of the 11 water samples tested positive for Naegleria fowleri.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all of Brazoria County on Sunday, where Lake Jackson is located.
“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,” Abbott said in the press release.
“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.”
A boil water notice has been issued for the city while authorities work to disinfect the water system, according to the release.
Castillo would not comment as to whether or not she has legal representation. She also declined to comment on potential conversations she and her family are having with the city about the incident.
According to the CDC, 145 people were infected with Naegleria fowleri from 1962 to 2018 and only four survived.