(WXYZ) – A woman using a Neti Pot to clear her chronic sinus infection died from a brain-eating amoeba. Doctors believe she likely contracted it from tap water.
How could this happen?
The 69-year-old woman from Seattle was looking for relief from a chronic sinus infection. Her doctor told her to rinse her sinuses twice a day. Which she did using a Neti Pot and filtered tap water. After a month, she developed a red rash the size of a quarter on her nose. Ointments didn’t clear it up and biopsies weren’t conclusive.
A year later, the woman had a seizure and a CT scan found a lesion on her brain. Unfortunately, surgery and a drug to fight the infection failed.
Tests found the woman had died from Balamuthia Mandrillaris
This is a type of amoeba that lives in soil and possibly in water as well.
Balamuthia mandrillaris is known to travel to the brain. It’s very deadly, with few people surviving this type of infection.
We don’t know a whole lot about how it’s picked up but assume it enters the body by getting in your mouth, breathing it in, or via skin wounds or cuts.
But this amoeba is very rare, only 200 cases of Balamuthia infection have been diagnosed worldwide. The CDC says at least 70 cases have been reported here in the U.S.
Are Neti Pots Safe to Use?
There’s nothing wrong with Neti Pots, but you have to use them correctly. And you should not use tap water. Because it’s not adequately filtered or treated.
And that means bacteria and amoebas can live in tap water and once in your nose, can potentially cause very serious and deadly infections.
So please use distilled or sterile water which you can buy at the grocery store. Or you can boil tap water for 5-10 minutes and then let it cool before using. There are also special filters that say they remove these types of germs. You can learn more about these on the CDC’s website.
- If you boil water, store it in a clean container with a lid. Use within 24 hours.
- Follow the product’s directions and be sure to wash and dry your Neti pot completely after each use. Only clean via dishwasher if it says its dishwasher safe.
- If you get nosebleeds or nasal irritation, reduce the frequency of use or cut back on the salt used in the solution.
- If you experience any side effects like fever or headaches, please talk to your doctor.
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Data pulled from WXYZ