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

09 December 2018

According to the doctors who treated the woman, the non-sterile water that she used it thought to have contained Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba that over the course of weeks to months can cause a very rare and nearly always fatal infection in the brain.

"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).

She contracted an amoeba called Balamuthia mandrillaris. "I think she was using (tap) water that had been through a water filter and had been doing that for about a year previously".

In the case report, the doctors said there was evidence of amoeba infection from neti pots before, but that they did not test the water their patients had been using, and so they could not be sure.

"If you do use a neti pot, for instance, you should be very aware that it has to be absolute sterile water or sterile saline", said Dr. Cobbs.

The woman, doctors realized, had been infected with Balamuthia mandrillaris, a type of amoeba that can infect the brain and cause massive damage.

Unlike N. fowleri, B. mandrillaris is much more hard to detect, according to the report.

The 69-year-old Seattle resident died in February after undergoing brain surgery at Swedish Medical Center.

"Then, about one year after the initial development of the nasal rash, the patient was seen at an outside hospital due to a left upper extremity focal seizure".

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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.

The amoeba was discovered in 1986.

People can't be infected by simply swallowing water contaminated with amoebas.

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

After contracting the amoebas, the woman developed a red sore on her nose.

However, using tap water with a neti pot isn't safe, according to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The woman's infection is the second ever reported in Seattle - the first came in 2013 - but the first fatality to be caused by it. "Repeat CT imaging demonstrated further hemorrhage into the original resection cavity. There's been about 200 cases world-wide", Cobbs said, according to Q13 News. "At this point, the family made a decision to withdraw support", the report continued.

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

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