In a Nutshell

Deaths From Brain-Eating Amoeba

by on Dec.19, 2011, under Environment

In Louisiana, two deaths have been linked to tap water improperly used to rinse out sinus cavities.

Brain-Eating Amoeba (Fox News)

Louisiana’s state health department has issued a warning about the dangers of improperly using nasal-irrigation devices called neti pots, responding to two recent deaths in the state that are thought to have resulted from “brain-eating amoebas” entering people’s brains through their sinuses while they were using the devices.

Both victims are believed to have filled their neti pots with tap water instead of manufacturer-recommended distilled or sterilized water. When they used these pots to force the water up their noses and flush out their sinus cavities — a treatment for colds and hay fever — a deadly amoeba living in the tap water, called Naegleria fowleri, worked its way from their sinuses into their brains.

The deaths are still under investigation, and health officials are sure that almost all dangerous microorganisms are killed in the purification processes commonly used on tap water. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility that a few microbes can survive long enough to get into the human body.

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