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Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Neti Pot User Featured

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Neti Pot InfectionThe CDC and Louisiana state health officials are warning patients about potential dangers of using tap water in the sinus-irrigating neti pot after two patients died of Naegleria Fowleri infection.

Naegleria Fowleri (N. Fowleri)

Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri) can invade and attack the human nervous system. N. fowleri is known as a "brain-eating" amoeba because it can enter a patient's nose, infect the brain, and cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain-tissue destroying condition.

Pateient Dies from Naegleria Fowleri Contaminated Water in Neti Pot

The first patient died of neti pot-induced infection in June. In December 2011, a 51 year-old woman died after flushing her sinuses with infected tap water.

The amoeba usually infects patients that submerge their heads in freshwater lakes and rivers, though it can be transmitted through inadequately chlorinated pool water or underheated (less than 116°F) tap water that enters a patient's nose.

Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM)

PAM is a syndrome affecting the central nervous system. PAM usually occurs in healthy children or young adults with no prior history of immune compromise who have recently been exposed to bodies of fresh water.

Symptoms of PAM include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck, and may take one to seven days to start. Later PAM symptoms include confusion,  loss of balance, seizures, hallucinations,lack of attention to environment, and, in one to 12 days after infection, death. The disease progresses rapidly and symptoms may resemble bacterial meningitis.The mortality rate is estimated at 98%.

Preventing N. Fowleri Infections when Using Neti Pots

Patients that irrigate their noses with a neti pot should use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water, Raoult Ratard, MD, a Louisiana state epidemiologist, said in the statement. Ratard noted that tap water was safe to drink, but may not be safe for nasal cleansing.

CDC Reaction Regarding N. Fowleri

N. fowleri infection is rare in the U.S. -- only 32 cases have been documented from 2001 to 2010, according to the CDC website. Currently there are no widespread efforts for prevention because of the low prevalence of N. fowleri infections. However, the CDC recommend that neti pot users use distilled or sterile water and rinse the device after use and to allow it to air dry.

Last modified on Monday, 19 March 2012 21:08
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