Woman Dies From Brain-Eating Amoeba After Using Neti Pot With Tap Water


A 69-year-old Seattle woman has died after a brain-eating amoeba entered her sinus cavity when she improperly used a neti pot, the Seattle Times is reporting.

The unidentified woman was admitted to Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center in January after suffering a seizure. Following a CT scan, doctors found a mass on her brain that they initially thought was a tumor. However, neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Cobbs said that the mass they found was not a tumor at all.

“A section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush. There were these amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells. We didn’t have any clue what was going on, but when we got the actual tissue we could see it was the amoeba.”

According to USA Today, doctors tested the woman’s diseased tissue and found the presence of Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba that lives in soil and could also possibly be found in the water supply.

Doctors later learned that the woman had been using a neti pot with tap water, likely putting her nasal tissue at risk of contracting the deadly infection.

A neti pot, for those not familiar, is a device that is used to flush out the nose and nasal cavities with water. It can be used to treat symptoms of the common cold or sinusitis and is generally considered to be beneficial to the user with no side effects – if used properly.

a woman using a neti pot
Featured image credit: nullplusShutterstock

However, the device must be used properly, and that means using either saline solution, distilled water, or tap water that has been treated with a packet of salt and disinfectants provided by the manufacturer. Tap water, though safe to drink, is not safe enough to be exposed to interior nasal tissue.

In fact, more than one person has died from an infection brought about by misuse of a neti pot. Back in 2013, a Louisiana man contracted the amoeba Naegleria fowleri using a neti pot and later died.

Back in Seattle, public health officials are concerned that there will be an increase in the number of cases like that of the unnamed 69-year-old woman. That’s because the infection which ultimately killed her, usually found in Central and South America, is moving north thanks to climate change, says Dr. Cynthia Maree.

“I think we are going to see a lot more infections that we see south (move) north, as we have a warming of our environment. Considering the mortality associated with this infection, my hope was that I was wrong. But my fear was that I was right.”

The Inquisitr would like to remind all neti pot users to follow their doctors’ and the manufacturers’ instructions to the letter when using these devices.