The recent report of a Seattle woman that died from brain eating amoeba after using neti pot instilled fear in some users, but doctors allayed those fears with advisory of careful usage. The neti pot is a nasal irrigation device that is used by people with chronic sinus problems and the woman had used filtered tap water for the device. According to epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Copeland of CDC, these amoebic infections are very rare and some have occurred due to usage of tap water in neti pots so her advice to users is to avoid using direct tap water in these devices.
She recommends use of sterile water that does not contain bacteria or virus for neti pots. If that is not available in an emergency then tap water can be used after using a special filter or boiling it for 3-5 minutes and then allowing it to cool until lukewarm before using it. According to detailed report of the deceased woman which was published in International Journal of Infectious Diseases, she had used tap water for her neti pot that had been filtered by a Brita water purifier.
The woman had been admitted in Swedish Medical Center after a brain seizure and examination of her brain tissue showed that she had been infected with Balamuthia mandrillaris which is an amoeba which is found in soil and fresh water and had been eating her brain for almost a year. Balamuthia causes rare infection of brain and spinal cord and can affect any organ in the human body. To relive its symptoms a combination of drugs are given but the infection is fatal in almost 90 percent of cases. But doctors say that early diagnosis and treatment can improve chances of survival. But the infection is very rare and since 1962 only about 200 cases have been reported across the world.