Woman dies from brain-eating amoeba after using neti pot

Posted December 09, 2018

A Seattle woman has died after a brain-eating amoeba entered her body.

The woman had been prescribed a neti pot to flush out her nasal cavity because she had a sinus infection, per a case report published in International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Cope said all three amoeba types have similar rates of prevalence, but Balamuthia mandrillaris is the least-recognized among the medical community because it is rarely documented, providing limited opportunity for research. The report states she used tap water that had been filtered by a Brita water purifier.

By nasal lavage the researchers are referring to the use of a neti pot - a teapot-shaped device that relieves sinus pressure by flushing water through the nasal cavity.

"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.

"When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush", Charles Cobbs, a neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center, told the Seattle Times. Unlike N. fowleri, however, which kills its human victims in a matter of days, the B. mandrillaris amoeba requires more time to inflict its damage. When doctors took a CT scan of her brain, they found what they initially believed to be a large tumour. After experiencing an intense seizure and an apparent loss of brain cognition, doctors started to investigate the possibility of the problem being in her brain. Although extremely rare, B. mandrillari is deadly, with nearly 90 percent of cases of infection resulting in death. According to the CDC, the amoeba was discovered in 1986 and officially declared a new species in 1993.

A person can not get infected from swallowing water contaminated with it, and it can not pass from person to person.

Unfortunately, this woman became one of these fatalities, dying just one month after the surgery. In cases involving N. fowleri, for example, people have contracted the amoeba by jumping into a lake and having water shoot up their noses.

Eventually she reportedly developed a rash on her nose and raw skin near her nostrils, which was misdiagnosed as rosacea, a skin condition. The woman died a month later, the Seattle Times reports. In the meantime, the scientists recommend that doctors conduct amoeba testing in cases of nasal sores and ring-enhancing brain lesions. Within a week, she was in a coma, and her family chose to take her off life support.

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