'Brain-Eating Amoeba' Infections Prompts Warning About Neti Pots

LiveScience.com

Two cases of people in Louisiana who died after contracting "brain-eating amoeba" infections from their own household water systems are prompting health officials to warn about a popular home remedy for treating sinus problems and allergies.

People who use neti pots to irrigate their nasal passages and sinuses should use only water that has been boiled, filtered or distilled, said the researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who investigated the unrelated cases, which occurred months apart in 2011 in different parts of Louisiana.

The cases are the first evidence reported in the U.S. of municipal, disinfected tap water used in nasal irrigation causing infections of Naegleria fowleri, as the amoebas are properly called. The infections which pass into the brain from the nose are almost always deadly, with only one report of a survivor ever documented in the U.S., according to the CDC.

"It’s a tragic infection," said researcher Jonathan Yoder, coordinator of waterborne diseases and outbreak surveillance at the CDC. However, infections with the organisms in general, and those stemming from household tap water in particular, are exceedingly rare.

"We don't know that there's a big risk from this — most cases occur from swimming in warm, fresh water," Yoder said. In fact, of the 32 N. fowleri cases reported in the U.S. between 2002 and 2011, 28 people were infected by contaminated recreational water activities, such as swimming in lakes or rivers, and two were infected by water from a contaminated geothermal source.

In the Louisiana cases, the researchers' investigation into the source of the infections could not solve the mystery of how the amoebas entered the water in the homes, Yoder said.

"We tested the water mains outside the homes, the water treatment plants, water towers — the organisms were not anywhere," he said.

The typical ways that municipal drinking water is treated, with filtration and chlorination, are very effective at killing disease-causing organisms, he said. However, it remains possible that some organisms survived, he said. "We just don't have any evidence of how they got in there."

In the case of the 28-year-old man in southern Louisiana who died, the amoebas were found in a tankless water heater in the home. N. fowleri were also found in the bathroom sink faucet and tub faucet in the home of the 51-year-old woman in the northern part of the state who died, according to the report.   

Infections have only been known to occur in cases in where water is forced up the nose, Yoder said. There have not been any cases where people contracted the infections by bathing or showering, and "there is certainly not a risk with drinking water," he said.

Both people who died had regularly used neti pots, according to the report. The pots come with packets of salt and instructions to dissolve the salt in water before using the pot to pour the solution into the nasal passages. During their investigation, the CDC researchers tested salt water prepared according to the neti pot instructions to see whether N. fowleri could survive in the salinity (the organisms are naturally found only in fresh water, not in salt water).

The researchers found that the amoebas survived in the salt water longer than four hours — a far longer time than neti pot users would likely wait between dissolving the salt and using the pot, Yoder said.  

The finding shows that users should not rely on the salt packets as "a disinfection step," he told MyHealthNewsDaily. People should purchase water that is labeled as distilled or sterile, or boil water for at least one minute in order to kill any organisms, he said.

The researchers report of their investigation of the cases is published today (Aug. 23) in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Pass it on: Neti pot users should use only sterile water, which has been boiled, distilled or filtered, the CDC says.

FollowMyHealthNewsDaily on Twitter @MyHealth_MHND. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Copyright 2012 MyHealthNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • UPS Driver Who Spotted 'Call 911' Scrawled on Package Helps Save Captive Woman

      A 3-year-old child was locked in a room of the house during the ordeal.

      Inside Edition
    • Michael Moore Says Trump May Decide To Quit Presidency

      “He may decide he just wants to quit before he even takes office,” the Academy Award-winning filmmaker said in an interview Wednesday.

      International Business Times
    • 7 Drugs Found in System of Hot Air Balloon Pilot in Deadliest US Crash: NTSB

      Pilot of the deadliest U.S. hot air balloon crash had 7 drugs in system.

      ABC News q
    • Photos of the day - December 9, 2016 (24 photos)

      A Christian Iraqi girl holds her mothers hand during the celebration of Santa Barbara in Om Al-Auna church in Irbil, Iraq; Tibetan Buddhist monks perform a dance called ‘cham’ wearing traditional masks, at the Sherabling monastery; and Russian artist Maria Gasanova adjusts her make-up as she finishes “The Siberian Beauty” body art work from her “The Alive Painting” series before the opening ceremony of the Cultural Universiade in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk are some of the photos of the day. (AP/EPA/Getty/Reuters) See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Popular Mechanics
    • Kitten Found Shrink-Wrapped to UPS Package for 4 Days Will Now Settle in His Fur-Ever Home

      "As soon as I saw the cat, I knew this cat was meant for me and my son," said Kirk Williams, who adopted the kitten for his disabled son.

      Inside Edition
    • 'Catwoman' Jocelyn Wildenstein Accused of Attacking Boyfriend With Scissors

      The socialite, whose name is synonymous with plastic surgery, was arraigned Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom.

      Inside Edition
    • Watch the first trailer for ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ right now

      Reboots of classic movies don't have the best track record (see: Alice in Wonderland , Godzilla , The Karate Kid ), but the Planet of the Apes reboot series from 20th Century Fox has been a pleasant surprise. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was both a critical and a commercial success, giving Fox the confidence to invest in a sequel, which ended up grossing over $700 million at the box office. Now, two years after the launch of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes , director Matt Reeves has returned with the third chapter of the story, titled War for the Planet of the Apes . The sequel isn't scheduled to arrive until next summer, but on Friday, Fox shared the first trailer for the climactic third act: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEP1Mk6Un98 Here's the synopsis for the upcoming movie: "In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet." It might sound like a conclusion of sorts, but Reeves has said in interviews that he "absolutely" has ideas about where the story will go in future installments. War for the Planet of the Apes will hit theaters on July 14th, 2017.

      BGR News
    • Alabama inmate coughs, heaves 13 minutes into execution

      ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — A man who killed an Alabama convenience store clerk more than two decades ago was put to death Thursday night, an execution that required two consciousness tests as the inmate heaved and coughed 13 minutes into the lethal injection.

      Associated Press
    • These 450 NASA GIFs will keep you amazed for hours

      When NASA isn't sending spacecraft into the great unknown or snapping jaw-dropping photos of Saturn, apparently the agency spends its free time making GIFs. At least that's what we have to imagine, now that NASA has debuted its very own Giphy page complete with over 450 highly entertaining GIFs. https://twitter.com/NASA/status/806879513728733184?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet The images the agency has chosen to upload showcase everything from equipment testing and rocket launches to facepalms and, well, whatever the hell this thing is: What makes the collection particularly interesting is that, because of how Giphy's individual GIF pages work, there's really no description of exactly what we're seeing in any given image. Sure, there are tags, so you might be able to decipher the identity of a planet, but many of them are still pretty mysterious. For example, what exactly is this, and why am I looking at it? And this sorcery? Is this some kind of strange Ebola mutation? Thankfully, most of the GIFs come with a source link that you can trace back and hopefully get a better idea of exactly what it is you're watching, and why it's so dang mesmerizing. For example, apparently that giant yellow mess you see above is the sun, so if that's what you guessed, go ahead and give yourself a hearty pat on the back. The huge collection is notable not just for its entertainment value, but as a matter of archival record. The animated images serve as a living timeline of the agency's extraterrestrial adventures, and hopefully it will be continually updated in the future.

      BGR News
    • Glenn Beck on Trump’s Boeing fight: ‘If America wants to go over the cliff, that’s fine. They can ... I’m not’

      When Glenn Beck thinks about some of the moves President-elect Donald Trump has made since the election — like picking a fight with Boeing, a Carrier Corp. union leader and, well, China — he shakes his head in disbelief. “I’m sorry, but if America wants to go over the cliff, that’s fine. Earlier this week, Trump attacked Boeing, calling on the U.S. government to cancel a deal with the aircraft manufacturer to develop of the next generation of Air Force One.

      Yahoo News
    • Broken Polling Machines Reported In Michigan

      The machines may throw any recount efforts into questionable territory.

      International Business Times
    • China’s Futuristic Elevated Bus Has Been Left For Dead

      An elevated bus that once promised to help allievate congestion on the roadways of China is now blocking traffic after being abandoned by its creators.

      International Business Times
    • Dad Rushes to Son's Defense After He's Shot While Wielding Knives at School: 'He Was Being Bullied'

      The father said he brought the knives to school after relentless torment from some classmates.

      Inside Edition
    • Putting a price on the '12 Days of Christmas' (12 photos)

      Inflation may be headed higher the United States, but at least one price indicator is holding steady. The 2016 PNC Christmas Price Index , which measures the cost of purchasing all the gifts mentioned in the "12 Days of Christmas" song, says that the holiday extravaganza would cost $34,363 this year, an increase of just 0.7 percent from last year. The Consumer Price Index has risen about twice as fast, at 1.7 percent over the past 12 months. The gift with the biggest price hike was the cost of two turtledoves ($375), which spiked 29 percent due to a shortage of the birds. Rising wages also drove up prices, with the cost of 11 pipers piping ($2,708) and 12 drummers drumming ($2,934) rising 2.8 percent this year. At $210, a partridge in a pear tree saw the biggest price decline this year. The cost of partridges fell 20 percent to $20, thanks to an increase in supply. The cost of the pear tree ticked lower as well. While gold prices have gone up and down significantly over the past five years, the cost of five golden rings has held steady at $750. PNC has been tracking the cost of the 12 Christmas gifts since 1984. The cost has risen by 82 percent in that period, far lower than the overall rate of inflation. The analysts also calculate the "true cost of Christmas," which totals the cost of the 364 gifts given in the entire song, including the repeated verses. In that case, the "true love" would have to spend $156,507, a $1,000 increase over last year. See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.  

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Honda CB1100EX Coming to U.S.

      Honda CB1100EX Coming to U.S. Honda puts it thus, the CB 1100 EX is a “retro-styled model upgraded with refreshed lines and performance improvements.” And we expect more than a few riders will be saying, “Welcome to America.” Although many among them weren’t

      RideApart
    • Conjoined Twin Girls Successfully Separated

      Conjoined twin girls who shared much of their lower body were successfully separated after a surgery that took 17 hours, their doctors said. The 2-year-old girls, Erika and Eva Sandoval, were born joined from the lower chest downwards, and shared a liver, a bladder and a leg, according to a statement from Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in Palo Alto, California, where the surgery was performed. The marathon surgery to separate the twins required a team of about 50 doctors, nurses and operating staff, and was finished in the early morning of Dec. 7.

      LiveScience.com
    • Teen was on Facebook Live during crash that killed her, pal

      TOBYHANNA, Pa. (AP) — An 18-year-old girl was live-streaming herself as she drove along a Pennsylvania highway in the moments before the crash that killed her and a passenger.

      Associated Press
    • Video: Knife-Wielding Student Shot by Officer at Nevada High School

      A 14-year-old high school student in Reno, Nevada, caught on camera swinging at least one large knife was shot by campus police after the student refused to drop the weapon, according to police.

      ABC News q
    • Trump’s pick as labor secretary: Legalizing immigrants is ‘the right thing to do’

      Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Labor strongly defended immigration reform in remarks several years ago and also criticized border security as a waste of money and overly intrusive — positions that put him at odds with the president-elect’s campaign promises to crack down on immigration. Andrew Puzder, CEO of the fast-food chain conglomerate CKE Restaurants, said that passing immigration reform that offered a path to legalization for many of the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country was “the right thing to do” and would boost the economy, in a question-and-answer session organized by conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute in 2013.

      Yahoo News