Beware the Improperly Used Neti Pot: Brain-Eating Amoebas Could Strike

80beatsBy Veronique GreenwoodDec 22, 2011 6:53 PM


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As you may have heard by now, two people in Louisiana have died from infections of brain-munching microbes after making a small, but fatal, error. While filling their neti pots, devices that send water flowing through your nasal passages to clear them out during a cold, they used tap water instead of distilled or sterilized water. Just their luck, the tap water had a few Naegleria fowleri in it, and soon, as the microbes made their way through the nasal passages to the brain, those poor folks had a lot more than a cold to worry about. The mortality rate of human Naegleria fowleri infections is 98%.

Tap water is generally safe for most purposes, and drinking a few of these guys isn't a problem, since your stomach acid digests them pronto, as Jennifer Frazer over at the Artful Amoeba notes (also, she points out---these aren't actually amoebas, but distant cousins, and yes, these are the same little guys that sometimes kill swimmers). But your deep nasal passages are quite a bit closer to your brain and aren't equipped with such protection. Be careful, all you neti pot users out there. Sometimes the fine print has important information.

[via The Artful Amoeba]

Image courtesy of Aikhan / Wikimedia Commons

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