The woman used tap water in her neti pot.
A Seattle, Washington woman whose brain was partly a "ball of bloody mush" after rare brain-eating amoebas infected her likely contracted the organisms after she used a neti pot full of tap water to clear her sinuses, according to a report.
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".
The 69-year-old Seattle woman stumped doctors earlier this year, when she was admitted to hospital after suffering a seizure.
The woman, doctors realized, had been infected with Balamuthia mandrillaris, a type of amoeba that can infect the brain and cause massive damage.
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.
But how did the amoebas get in her brain in the first place? It can kill within days, not months, according to the Seattle Times. Her doctor told her it was rosacea and prescribed an ointment, according to the report. That said, the woman's case was rare; there were only three similar cases in the US from 2008 to 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "There's been about 200 cases worldwide", Dr. Cobbs said. Within a week, she was in a coma, and her family made a decision to take her off life support.
"However, unfortunately it is possible for these organisms to get into tap water as well at times, and that's why I do always counsel my patients to use distilled water when rinsing". The report notes that it's safest to use saline or sterile water. But then Hopkins pathologists came back with a verdict: The infection looked "amoebic", said Cobbs, who thought, "that's ridiculous", upon hearing the news.
The woman's doctors say they weren't able to definitely link the infection to her neti pot, as the water supply to her home was not tested for the amoeba.