Woman Uses Neti Pot, Ends Up With Brain-Eating Amoeba


The woman had gone to the doctor for a chronic sinus infection and was instructed to use a saline irrigation to clear out her sinuses, but while sterile water or saline is recommended, she used water filtered by a Brita Water Purifier, according to a case study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. "I think she was using water that had been through a water filter and had been doing that for about a year previously", Dr. Cobb said.

A year on, the woman started to develop some unusual symptoms, such as a odd red rash around the outside of her nasal passage.

"When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush", Charles Cobbs, MD, neurosurgeon at Swedish, told the Seattle Times. "We didn't have any clue what was going on, but when we got the actual tissue we could see it was the amoeba", Cobbs added. These sorts of infections are quite rare, but what's unique about this incident is that it's the "first case of Balamuthia mandrillaris brain infection suspected from nasal lavage", according to the case study, which was authored by Swedish scientists and the doctors who worked on the case, Cobbs included.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rushed the anti-amoeba drug miltefosine to Seattle to try to save the woman's life, but she fell into a coma and died.

She used the device over the span of a year.

Previous year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also issued a warning that improper use of Neti pots and other nasal irrigation systems could lead to risky infections, including one with a brain-eating amoeba.

The amoeba was discovered in 1986. The fatality rate is almost 100 percent.

People can't be infected by simply swallowing water contaminated with amoebas.

While this type of brain infection is rare, doctors are urging people to use sterile water any time they use a neti pot.

After she died, doctors determined the specific infection had been caused by an amoeba called Balamuthia mandrillaris.

For this poor woman, who died from the brain infection this past February, the condition had first manifested as a skin rash on her nose.

Doctors who treated the woman also believe that the sore on her nose was connected. "There's been about 200 cases world-wide", Cobbs said, according to Q13 News.

Over the next several days, additional scans revealed that whatever was happening in her brain was getting worse. "At this point, the family chose to withdraw support", the report continued.

Health officials say Neti pots can be safe to use as long as you follow the instructions and fill them only with boiled or distilled water.