'Tox-Doc' answers water safety questions amid do-not-use advisory in southeast Texas

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An urgent message was sent by state authorities Saturday morning about a brain-eating amoeba found in a southeast Texas water supply that impacts thousands of customers.

Environmental toxicologist Dr. Noreen Khan-Mayberry, also known as "Houston's Tox-Doc," answered questions the public had about the amoeba, known as naegleria fowleri.

"The reason I want people to be very cautious is not because of the likelihood of them actually getting the infection, but it's because if you do happen to get it, the consequences are very severe and very few people survive," said Khan-Mayberry.

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For those who are at home, Dr. Khan-Mayberry wants to remind people this isn't a boil advisory.

"Some people think you can boil it out, but it is viable in hot water, so don't think you can boil it," Khan-Mayberry said. "Do-not-use advisory means do not use."

Below is a list of symptoms she said to watch out for:

  • Change of sense of smell or taste
  • Fever
  • Sudden or severe headache
  • Loss of balance
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Loss of balance
  • Abnormally tired
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations


These symptoms can begin between two to 15 days after exposure to the amoeba. Khan-Mayberry said to "pay attention to the advisory, even after it's lifted."

For those at home, if you're brushing your teeth, washing your face or taking a bath, she urges people to use bottled water.

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