Published: Sun, December 09, 2018
Medicine | By Debra Reynolds

Woman dies from brain-eating amoeba after using neti pot

Woman dies from brain-eating amoeba after using neti pot

The 69-year-old Seattle woman had gone to her doctor for help with a nagging sinus infection and had been told to flush out her nasal cavities with water using a device sometimes called a neti pot, according to a case report in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. And that's where things went wrong, according to a recent report of the woman's case.

But the sore didn't go away even after treatment and multiple visits to the dermatologist.

Earlier this year, an unnamed woman was admitted to the Swedish Medical Center after suffering a seizure. Since 1993, the CDC says, there have been at least 70 cases in the United States.

An amoeba is a single-cell organism that can cause fatal disease in humans, and they live in warm soil and water. He took a sample and sent it for analysis. "So that's what we suspect is the source of the infection", Cobbs said, according to KIRO.

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The woman's condition quickly deteriorated.

Surgeon Dr Charles Cobbs operated and removed a dime-sized tumor. "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.

This time, the team contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who FedExed the hospital a brand-new drug to try, Cobbs said.

The Times reported that the woman shot the contaminated water far up her nasal cavity toward olfactory nerves in the upper part of her nasal cavity, causing the brain-eating infection.

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It wasn't until after the woman's death that additional lab results came back from the CDC.

While this type of brain infection is rare, doctors are urging people to use sterile water any time they use a neti pot. But they weren't able to test her tap water to confirm the Balamuthia mandrillaris amoebas were there. Since then, more than 200 cases have been diagnosed worldwide, with at least 70 cases in the USA, the CDC says. Cobbs said this was likely the first symptom of the amoeba, but its rarity makes the amoeba hard to quickly diagnose. For example, the amoeba can be mistaken for certain immune cells, which it resembles under the microscope. For about a year, the sore was misdiagnosed and being treated as a common, treatable skin condition known as rosacea, the study said. That report found there have been 109 cases of the amoeba reported in the USA between 1974 and 2016.

Over the next several days, additional scans revealed that whatever was happening in her brain was getting worse.

Still, Cobbs stressed that people should not panic about the possibility of this infection, given its rarity.

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