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

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"When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush", Charles Cobbs, a neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center, told the Seattle Times. And that's where things went wrong, according to a recent report of the woman's case.

Earlier this year, an unnamed woman was admitted to the Swedish Medical Center after suffering a seizure.

"It's such an incredibly uncommon disease it was not on anyone's radar that this initial nose sore would be related to her brain", Piper said. Doctors believe an amoeba entered in through her upper nasal cavity and got into her bloodstream, eventually reaching her brain. When doctors did a CT scan, they found what they thought was a tumor but later discovered was dead tissue in her brain during an operation. It was sent to a lab at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where a scientists said he suspected an amoeba infection. But the woman's condition was deteriorating.

Cobbs: "This is an amoeba that is just one of the things in the environment, so we're exposed to it all the time probably, and it's not really known to be something that injures humans but in a certain, extremely rare situation it can cause an infection like this". When the doctors looked at these samples of the tissue under the microscope, they could see the amoebas.

But while this type of brain infection is rare, doctors are urging people to use sterile water any time they use a neti pot. A year later, she died of a brain-eating amoeba. In healthy people with good immune systems, an infection is extremely rare.

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You can't get the infection from drinking contaminated water or swimming in a properly chlorinated pool, and it hasn't been shown to spread through vapor from a hot shower or humidifier, according to the CDC.

The woman had been prescribed a neti pot to flush out her nasal cavity because she had a sinus infection, per a case report published in International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The doctor and his colleagues believe the woman may have used a common plastic device called a neti pot, which lets users irrigate their sinuses by flushing water through it.

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 unsafe infections, including one with a brain-eating amoeba. There have only been around 200 reported cases of infection worldwide, although around 70 of those cases were in the US alone, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The case is the second-ever reported in Seattle - the first was in 2013.

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