Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Seattle woman dies from brain-eating amoebas in neti pot

Getty Images Getty Images
Ben Pena | 10 December, 2018, 05:11

The 69-year-old was admitted to Swedish Medical Center earlier this year after suffering a seizure. When they opened her up, the medical team was shocked to observe that, instead of a brain tumor, a rare brain-eating amoeba was practically devouring the Seattle woman's brain.

In order to prevent any risk of infection, people should always read the instructions on a neti pot and only use saline or sterile water.

What happened: The woman had been filling her neti pot with unfiltered water and using it to try to clear up a sinus infection. It's extremely important to use sterile saline or sterile water.

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.

The Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal says 90% of patients that contracted Balamuthia have died.

"There have been 34 reported infections in the U.S.in the 10 years from 2008 to 2017, despite millions of recreational water exposures each year", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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The case is the second-ever reported in Seattle - the first was in 2013. We believe that the neti pot she was using probably had gotten contaminated. But then Hopkins pathologists came back with a verdict: The infection looked "amoebic", said Cobbs, who thought, "that's ridiculous", upon hearing the news. However, during the surgery, the doctors discovered that, in reality, that formation was not a brain tumor but a rare brain-eating amoeba. That report found there have been 109 cases of the amoeba reported in the US between 1974 and 2016.

"After a month of using non-sterile water for nasal lavage without success, she developed a quarter-sized red raised rash on the right side of the bridge of her nose and raw red skin at the nasal opening, which was thought to be rosacea", the report states.

She used the device over the span of a year. The CDC says it's possible that the amoeba may also live in water.

The specific amoeba that killed the Seattle woman moves slowly, which is why it went undetected for a year.

"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", Piper said. And that's where things went wrong, according to a recent report of the woman's case. About two weeks later, Cobbs performed another surgery and removed a mass the size of a baseball. "MRSA (a treatable bacterial infection) is everywhere, but we don't have a mechanism of injecting it into our brain", Cobbs said.

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