Neti pot nightmare: BRAIN-EATING amoebas from tap water attack elderly woman

If you're using a neti pot to pour water through your nasal passages and clean out your sinus cavities, you should only use sterile or saline water, doctors have warned after a Seattle woman died from a brain infection.

Even though such infections are very rare, there were three similar US cases from 2008 to 2017.

She contracted an amoeba called Balamuthia mandrillaris.

If you haven't used a neti pot before, you've probably at least heard of it.

"Tap water isn't safe for use as a nasal rinse because it's not adequately filtered or treated".

"When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush", Dr. Charles Cobbs said, according to the Seattle Times.

After she died, doctors determined the specific infection had been caused by an amoeba called Balamuthia mandrillaris.

They think that she did so with tap water for a year, and that this may have led to the amoeba infecting her brain. After experiencing an intense seizure and an apparent loss of brain cognition, doctors started to investigate the possibility of the problem being in her brain.

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The case report notes that GAE is rare and the CDC described it as a "very rare disease that is usually fatal".

The amoeba was discovered in 1986.

Normally, an extra effort is required to bring on an infection; it can not be contracted by drinking contaminated water. In 1990, researchers first became aware that this type of amoeba can cause disease in people, according to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in November.

The amoeba is similar to Naegleria fowleri, which has been the culprit in several high-profile cases. That aligns with what the victim experienced, as her first likely symptom was a red sore on her nose that doctors kept misdiagnosing as the common skin condition rosacea.

A neurosurgeon from Swedish Medical Center in Seattle said this is a rare situation but is warning patients to be sure to follow the directions when using a Neti pot for nasal congestion, and use only boiled or distilled water.

But when Cobbs operated to remove the mass, "it was just dead brain tissue", making it hard to determine what it actually was. Repeat CT imaging demonstrated further haemorrhage into the original resection cavity. "There's been about 200 cases world-wide", Cobbs said, according to Q13 News.

"Improper nasal irrigation has been reported as a method of infection for the comparably insidious amoeba", the doctors say in the research paper about the Seattle woman. Within a week, she was in a coma, and her family chose to take her off life support.

Dr Cobbs continued: 'It's extremely important to use sterile saline or sterile water.

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