Brain-eating amoeba kills Florida resident, possibly due to sinus rinse with tap water

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Health officials in Florida have issued a warning after a patient died after being infected with Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as brain-eating amoeba.

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The Charlotte County Health Department issued an alert, saying that it confirmed a victim had been infected with the bacteria, “possibly as a result of sinus rinse practices” with tap water.

Health experts told WINK that the victim likely used a sinus rinse, such as a Neti Pot, which allowed the amoeba access to the nose.

The health department emphasized that infection with the bacteria is extremely rare, and it is not possible to be infected by drinking tap water. The infection can only occur when the bacteria enters the human body through the nose.

Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled amoeba that can enter a human’s nose via contaminated water. Rarely, when the amoeba gets into the brain via the nose, it can cause a deadly infection.

Naegleria fowleri naturally lives in soil and warm fresh water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of three people are infected by the bacteria each year, and the infections are typically fatal.

Charlotte County health officials warned residents that sinus rinse solutions should be made only using distilled or sterile water. Tap water should be boiled for at least one minute, then cooled, before being used as a sinus rinse.

Do not allow water to go up your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or in small plastic/blow-up pools.

The health department warned that if you experience any of the following symptoms after swimming in warm lakes or rivers, or after a nasal water exposure such as a sinus rinse, to seek medical assistance immediately:

· Headache

· Fever

· Nausea, vomiting

· Disorientation

· Seizures

· Loss of Balance

· Hallucinations

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