Brain-eating amoebas kill woman who used tap water in neti pot

So, in an attempt to give the 69-year-old Seattle woman some relief, doctors recommended that she use a neti pot regularly to rinse out her sinuses.

"There have been 34 reported infections in the U.S.in the 10 years from 2008 to 2017, despite millions of recreational water exposures each year", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was microscopic amoebas that were feasting on her brain.

"After a month of using non-sterile water for nasal lavage without success, she developed a quarter-sized red raised rash on the right side of the bridge of her nose and raw red skin at the nasal opening, which was thought to be rosacea", the report states. However, instead of using sterile water, she used tap water that had been run through a store-bought filter. Her doctor tells The Seattle Times there was "amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells".

Cobbs said it's theoretically possible for other people to be infected with the same deadly amoeba, but that it's a very, very rare occurrence.

As in the Seattle woman's case, the infections are "almost uniformly fatal", with a death rate of more than 89%, according to the doctors who treated her and the CDC. It was declared a distinct species in 1993, according to the report. During surgery at John Hopkins Hospital to remove the lesions, doctors ultimately determined she had an "amoebic infection". 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 researchers weren't able to test the woman's tap water, but people can not be infected by simply swallowing water contaminated with the amoebas, according to Cobbs.

The amoeba is similar to Naegleria fowleri, which has been the culprit in several high-profile cases.

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.

When Dr Cobbs next operated on the woman, the growth had grown to the size of a baseball, and that too much of her brain tissue had been killed for medics to save her. "Repeat CT imaging demonstrated further hemorrhage into the original resection cavity".

A month later, the woman died. Within a week, she was in a coma, and her family made a decision to take her off life support. The study was authored by Cobbs and others who worked on the woman's case.

"She had not been boiling water, using sterile water or using sterile saline".

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