Wednesday, 20 March, 2019


Woman Uses Neti Pot, Ends Up With Brain-Eating Amoeba

Patty Aguilar | 08 December, 2018, 07:24

"She wasn't boiling the water or using sterile saline, she was filtering it, but maybe somehow it got contaminated". Her doctor tells The Seattle Times there was "amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells". They wrote a case study for the International Journal of Infectious Diseases to educate other doctors on their rare findings.

The 69-year-old, whose name was not given, had a lingering sinus infection.

"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.

A woman who was told by her doctor to rinse her sinuses twice daily to clear up a chronic sinus infection died from a brain-eating amoeba. It was microscopic amoebas that were feasting on her brain.

Eventually she reportedly developed a rash on her nose and raw skin near her nostrils, which was misdiagnosed as rosacea, a skin condition. Doctors thought it was a rash and prescribed an antibiotic ointment, but that provided no relief. She arrived in the hospital's emergency room after suffering seizures. When doctors did a CT scan, they found what they thought was a tumor but later discovered was dead tissue in her brain during an operation. The mass was growing, and new lesions were starting to show up.

Doctors took the woman into critical care and quickly sent word to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which rushed a shipment of an anti-amoeba drug called miltefosine.

The woman, doctors realized, had been infected with Balamuthia mandrillaris, a type of amoeba that can infect the brain and cause massive damage. "There's been about 200 cases worldwide", Dr. Cobbs said. The fatality rate is almost 100 percent.

The amoeba is similar to Naegleria fowleri, which has been the culprit in several high-profile cases. However, very rarely, there have been deaths associated with an amoeba in tap or faucet water going up the nose.

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. "This precedent led us to suspect the same route of entry for the. amoeba in our case".

They started treating the infection, to no avail.

Kristen Maki, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Health, said in an email that "Large municipal water supplies. have robust source water protection programs" and treatment programs, and she noted that "Well protected groundwater supplies are logically expected to be free of any such large amoeba" such as Balamuthia.

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