Fatal brain-eating amoeba may have come from woman's neti pot

Fatal brain-eating amoeba may have come from woman's neti pot

The woman, who was 69 years old, died in February - roughly a month after doctors discovered the amoeba in her brain and about a year after she was initially infected.

A year ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also issued a warning that improper use of Neti pots and other nasal irrigation systems could lead to risky infections, including one with a brain-eating amoeba.

Importantly, the scientists said we should not give up on neti pots, as the devices present a good way of getting nasal relief.

The doctor and his colleagues believe the woman may have used a common plastic device called a neti pot, which lets users irrigate their sinuses by flushing water through it. "I think she was using water that had been through a water filter and had been doing that for about a year previously", Dr. Cobb said.

According to the CDC, most cases of Balamuthia mandrillaris aren't diagnosed until immediately before death or after death, so doctors don't have a lot of experience treating the amoeba and know little about how a person becomes infected.

Eventually she reportedly developed a rash on her nose and raw skin near her nostrils, which was misdiagnosed as rosacea, a skin condition.

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.

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'We didn't have any clue what was going on, but when we got the actual tissue, we could see it was the amoeba'.

A year on, the woman started to develop some unusual symptoms, such as a odd red rash around the outside of her nasal passage. Alarmingly, the fatality rate is practically 100 per cent.

You can't get the infection from drinking contaminated water or swimming in a properly chlorinated pool, and it hasn't been shown to spread through vapor from a hot shower or humidifier, according to the CDC.

"It's such an incredibly uncommon disease it was not on anyone's radar that this initial nose sore would be related to her brain", Keenan Piper, a Swedish Medical Center employee and co-author of the study, told the newspaper. "Repeat CT imaging demonstrated further hemorrhage into the original resection cavity. At this point, the family chose to withdraw support".

"It's extremely important to use sterile saline or sterile water", Dr. Cobbs said.

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. There have been over 200 diagnoses of the disease worldwide, 70 of which were in the USA, per the CDC.

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