Seattle woman dies from brain-eating amoebas in neti pot

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

Past year 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.

"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. There, doctors took a CT scan of her brain and discovered what they believed was a tumour.

An amoeba is a single-cell organism that can cause fatal disease in humans, and they live in warm soil and water. "We didn't have any clue what was going on, but when we got the actual tissue we could see it was the amoeba", Cobbs added.

What happened: The woman had been filling her neti pot with unfiltered water and using it to try to clear up a sinus infection.

'I think she was using (tap) water that had been through a water filter and had been doing that for about a year previously'.

A variety of types of amoeba can cause deadly brain infections, which can also be contracted from getting fresh water in the nose while swimming.

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




Cobbs: "This is an extraordinarily unusual disease that has only been reported a few hundred times in the world".

Unfortunately, this woman became one of these fatalities, dying just one month after the surgery.

After contracting the amoebas, the woman developed a red sore on her nose. And it's hard to grow the amoeba in the lab, because it doesn't grow on agar, a commonly used cell-culturing medium used in labs.

While infections remain rare, the Seattle woman died from the least-known of them all: Balamuthia mandrillaris. In this case, however, it was the neti rinse device that delivered the amoebas, via infected tap water, into her nasal passages and into her olfactory nerves, the scientists said.

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.

Indeed, the ensuing biopsy report showed that the woman had been infected with a rare brain-eating amoeba called Balamuthia mandrillaris. N. fowleri is present in Puget Sound waters and other freshwater sources, Maree said. It was microscopic amoebas that were feasting on her brain.

"From my understanding it's everywhere". But then Hopkins pathologists came back with a verdict: The infection looked "amoebic", said Cobbs, who thought, "that's ridiculous", upon hearing the news.

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