Neti Pot Amoeba

By Ryan Noonan – April 2, 2012

Naegleria fowleri, also known as “the brain-eating amoeba,” are typically found in warm bodies of fresh water such as ponds, lakes, rivers, and hot springs. These bacteria are harmful, even deadly, if injected through the nose. Fortunately, Naegleria fowleri aren’t harmful if consumed via drinking water. The problem arises when people jump into lakes and ponds and take a face full of water up the nose, or when people clean their sinuses, often with a neti pot, using infected tap water. These bacteria then travel to the brain, where they feast. But the good news is that, for the most part, deaths from these bacteria are rare and these problems can be avoided. When using tap water to clean sinuses, boiling the water first will kill the bacteria, and when you’re out on the lake or in any untreated body of water, be conscious of how you enter the water so as not to ingest anything through the nose. There have only been 35 reported cases in the United States since 2001; however, some cases may be unreported. The question doctors are trying to answer—“Is this a rare infection that is always fatal, or is it a common infection that is sometimes fatal?” The verdict on that is still out.



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