Published: Mon, December 10, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Woman dies from rare brain-eating amoeba after using tap water

Woman dies from rare brain-eating amoeba after using tap water

So, in an attempt to give the 69-year-old Seattle woman some relief, doctors recommended that she use a neti pot regularly to rinse out her sinuses. A CT scan revealed what physicians initially thought was a tumor in the woman's brain.

That is a rare condition as only 200 cases caused by that brain-eating amoeba have been recorded around the world.

'We didn't have any clue what was going on, but when we got the actual tissue, we could see it was the amoeba'.

Such infections are very rare.

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

They think that she did so with tap water for a year, and that this may have led to the amoeba infecting her brain.

The amoebas can be found in fresh-water sources around Puget Sound but aren't present in city-treated water, Liz Coleman, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Public Health division of the state's Department of Health, told the paper.

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The researchers weren't able to test the woman's tap water, but people can not be infected by simply swallowing water contaminated with the amoebas, according to Cobbs. In fact, her case of GAE is the first to be linked to the washing of the nasal cavity, according to Keenan Piper, a member of the Swedish team that produced the study.

Amoebic brain infections are more common in warmer waters in the South, but might become more common in northern states thanks to global warming, experts say. According to the CDC, the amoeba was discovered in 1986 and officially declared a new species in 1993. Since then, more than 200 cases have been diagnosed worldwide, with at least 70 cases in the US, the CDC says.

In 2011, Louisiana health officials warned residents not to use nonsterilized tap water in neti pots after the deaths of two people who were exposed to Naegleria fowleri while flushing their nasal passages.

A month later, the woman died.

Eventually she reportedly developed a rash on her nose and raw skin near her nostrils, which was misdiagnosed as rosacea, a skin condition. This amoeba was not even known 20 years ago hardly. He was believed to have gotten infected while surfing in an indoor water park in Texas.

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.

"He thought it looked suspicious for amoeba infection. Pathologists couldn't really determine what it was because the tissue had been pretty much destroyed", said Dr. Charles Cobbs from the Seattle's Swedish Medical Center.

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