A Texas family is astounded at how they lost their precious 6-year-old.
Josiah McIntyre died on September 8.
The little boy was a great big brother and brought so much joy to those around him. Sadly, he died of what his mother, Maria Castillo, called a brain-eating amoeba.
The staff at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston worked tirelessly to try to save Josiah. Sadly, it was too late. The distraught family naturally wanted answers.
The city of Lake Jackson, Texas, was able to confirm that the “rare and often fatal brain-eating amoeba” was identified as Naegleria fowleri.
Investigators have been working to pinpoint the exact place where Josiah was infected. They’ve narrowed it down to two locations, one of which has tested positive for the amoeba.
Local officials are working around-the-clock to determine if the amoeba was present in the water supply for any sustained amount of time. They’ve exercised safety precautions so that almost all residents are able to use local water again.
It’s been 20 days since the untimely death of Josiah McIntyre. The 6-year-old boy, a resident of Lake Jackson, woke up with a headache on September 3. The next day, he started throwing up and had a fever.
By Sunday, his mother decided to take him to the hospital because his symptoms hadn’t slowed. He was admitted to the neurological ICU.
“They were treating him for meningitis, for encephalitis and pretty much at this point, just trying to figure out what was wrong with him,” his mother, Maria Castillo, told The Facts.
“Late Monday night, early Tuesday morning, they found out that it was the brain-eating amoeba … and he passed away Tuesday (September 8), that night.”
“Texas Children’s did do everything that they could,” Maria later told ABC13.
“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.”
The tragedy was heartbreaking for the family, who received an outpouring of support from their community. Concerns were also high about how the little boy could have had something so terrible happen to him.
The city of Lake Jackson said in a statement Saturday that an unnamed 6-year-old boy had been hospitalized for “a rare and often fatal brain-eating amoeba” identified as Naegleria fowleri.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people swimming in warm fresh water are susceptible to coming in contact with the amoeba.
“Naegleria fowleri usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the ameba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes [primary amebic meningoencephalitis] PAM, which is usually fatal.”
The CDC guidance emphasizes, “You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria.”
The city has been investigating how Josiah contracted the amoeba. Staff have narrowed it down to two possibilities. One is a water play area called the Lake Jackson Civic Center Splash Pad. The other is a home lawn hose.
CDC testing confirmed that the splash pad storage tank, as well as a fire hydrant near the pad, were positive for the amoeba.
The following areas are NO LONGER under a Do Not Use Water Advisory:
Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute, Rosenberg, Dow Chemical, TDCJ Clemens and TDCJ Wayne Scott.— Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (@TCEQ) September 26, 2020
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a water advisory to residents served by the Brazosport Water Authority on Friday. It warned customers not to use any water due to the presence of Naegleria fowleri, according to CNN. On Saturday, that advisory was lifted for all areas with the exception of Lake Jackson.
Lake Jackson’s advisory was also changed on Saturday. A “boil water” notice was issued in place of the “do not use” advisory.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and city officials are actively working on a plan to flush and disinfect the water system. The city is to remain under the boil notice until that process is done, but it’s unknown how long it will take.
On Sunday, Governor Greg Abbott declared a disaster in Brazoria County, saying that three of 11 water tests in the county found N. fowleri. They say that the microbe poses “an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life.”
The news is concerning for residents, who want more answers as to how this happened.
Josiah’s family wants him to be remembered for his life, while also raising awareness for the tragic cause of his death.
“He was an active little boy,” Maria said.
“He was a really good big brother. He just loved and cared about a lot of people.”