Doctors believe a woman who died from rare brain-eating amoebas used tap water to rinse her sinuses.
The 69-year-old Seattle resident died in February after undergoing brain surgery at Swedish Medical Center. Her doctor tells The Seattle Times there was "amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells."
According to a study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, doctors believe the woman likely became infected when she used tap water in her neti pot, a teapot-like vessel used to flush out nasal passages.
Health officials suggest using only distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to rinse sinuses. Tap water can contain tiny organisms that are safe to drink but could survive in nasal passages.
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Such infections are very rare. There were three similar U.S. cases from 2008 to 2017.
HOW TO USE A NETI POT
A neti pot is a container designed to rinse debris or mucus from the nasal cavity. People use it to treat symptoms of nasal allergies, sinus problems or colds.
- Use distilled or sterile water. If using tap or filtered water, boil for several minutes and let cool until lukewarm.
- Tilt your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril.
- Breathing through your open mouth, gently pour the saltwater solution into your upper nostril so that the liquid drains through the lower nostril.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air-dry.