Seattle woman dies after contracting rare form of brain-eating amoeba

An MRI of the Seattle woman’s brain in February 2018 shows severe hemorrhaging. “It’s such an incredibly uncommon disease it was not on anyone’s radar that this initial nose sore would be related to her brain,” said Keenan Piper a researcher fro

A Seattle woman unwittingly injected deadly brain-eating amoebas into her nasal cavity when she rinsed out her sinuses with tap water, according to a new report.

If you haven't used a neti pot before, you've probably at least heard of it. Swedish Medical Center didn't identify the patient who died just a month after being diagnosed. For a month, she tried to get rid of it using a neti pot with tap water instead of using sterile water, as is recommended.

The neurosurgeon, Dr. Charles Cobbs, operated on the 69-year-old woman last January. She'd experienced a seizure that weakened her left arm. At first doctors thought the woman had a tumor, as she had been previously diagnosed with breast cancer.

But the sore didn't go away even after treatment and multiple visits to the dermatologist. During surgery at John Hopkins Hospital to remove the lesions, doctors ultimately determined she had an "amoebic infection". "I was pretty much shocked because I'd never seen that before", Cobbs told KIRO-TV. But the woman's condition was deteriorating. About two weeks later, Cobbs performed another surgery and removed a mass the size of a baseball. Although the woman did use a store-bought filter, it likely wasn't one approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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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 person can not get infected from swallowing water contaminated with it, and it can not pass from person to person. Because the water goes directly up your nose, it'll be close to your brain-so it's crucial no microbes are lingering in the liquid.

"She had not been boiling water, using sterile water or using sterile saline". The report states she used tap water that had been filtered by a Brita water purifier. "So that's what we suspect is the source of the infection", Cobbs said, according to KIRO. "This is so rare there have only been like 200 cases ever". Her doctor told her it was rosacea and prescribed an ointment, according to the report.

Researchers found that the single-celled organisms likely infected the woman's brain through her nasal cavity by way of a neti pot, a teapot shaped product used to rinse out the sinuses, about a year earlier. "Because it wasn't directly from the nose to the brain, it somehow ended up in the brain way back here", said Cobbs, pointing to the back of his head. As long as we wash the containers properly and use either boiled or saline water we should be OK.

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