WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A 69-year-old woman from Seattle died from an infection with a “brain-eating” amoeba called Balamuthia mandrillaris.
- It started when the woman has a persistent sinus infection, prompting doctors to recommend using a neti pot regularly to rinse out her sinuses.
- According to the case report, the woman preferred using unfiltered tap water in the neti pot instead of adding saline or sterile water.
It started as a persistent sinus infection that ended in the death of a 69-year-old woman from Seattle. According to the case report published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the woman suffered from a rare amoebic brain-eating infection, after using a neti pot to rinse her sinuses.
“Fortunately, these amoebic infections are quite rare, but we have documented that some have occurred due to use of tap water in neti pots,” Dr. Jennifer Copeland, a medical epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC News on Friday. “The message we want people to hear is that if you use the neti pot you should not use tap water directly.”
The woman used unfiltered tap water instead of sterile or saline water. After a month, she developed a red rash, the size of a quarter, on the right side of her nose and “raw red skin at the nasal opening.”
The rash didn’t heal even after several visits to the dermatologist. The woman suffered from a seizure a year later. Her CT scan revealed a 1.5-centimeter lesion in her brain.
Doctors at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle first thought it was a tumor, but when they operated to remove the mass, they couldn’t identify what it was. They decided to send a sample to neurologists at John Hopkins for analysis.
It was found out that the infection looked amoebic — which is a parasitic infection that can find its way up into the brain.
The woman was also prescribed medicine to treat the infection. Unfortunately, the infection was already too severe and her condition had already been deteriorating.
After she died, additional findings came back from the CDC, revealing that she had a brain-eating amoeba called Balamuthia mandrillaris.
Doctors say it was likely due to the unsterile water from the neti pot that led to the woman’s infection and death, the report says.
Balamuthia mandrillaris infection is hard to diagnose, it’s possible that many other cases of the infection have been missed, according to the report. It is so rare that only 200 cases of this infection occur worldwide, with only 70 reported in the U.S.
Doctors warn people about the safe use of neti pot. If a nasal rash appears after using non-sterile water, it may be a sign for developing amoeba skin infections.
Source: NBC News