Brain-eating amoeba may have come from neti pot

Henrietta Brewer
December 8, 2018

Then the numbness began on her left side.

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.

But the problems never went away.

But when Cobbs operated to remove the mass, "it was just dead brain tissue", making it hard to determine what it actually was.


"When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush", Dr. Charles Cobbs said, according to the Seattle Times.

"There were these amoebae all over the place just eating brain cells. We didn't have any clue what was going on, but when we got the actual tissue we could see it was the amoeba", Cobbs added.

For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.

The woman's brain infection went undiagnosed for so long because the type of amoeba she had was so uncommon and also moves very slowly, the Times stated. Although this is extremely rare, an elderly person persistently flushing unsterilized water up their nose is a sure fire way to raise those odds. They hope her case will let other doctors know to consider an amoeba infection if a patient gets a sore or rash on the nose after rinsing their sinuses. There have been over 200 diagnoses of the disease worldwide, 70 of which were in the U.S., per the CDC. The amoeba was discovered by CDC scientists in the brain of a dead mandrill baboon in 1986, and it was declared a new species of amoeba in 1993.


Unfortunately, this woman became one of these fatalities, dying just one month after the surgery. He took a sample and sent it for analysis.

The unnamed woman died a month after the surgery from the infection called granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE), according to a case study published this month in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. "At this point, the family chose to withdraw support", the report continued.

The woman turned out to have an infection with a "brain-eating" amoeba called Balamuthia mandrillaris.

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.


"She had not been boiling water, using sterile water or using sterile saline". She used tap water that had been filtered with a Brita Water Purifier, while the report notes that it's safest to use sterile water or saline. "So that's what we suspect is the source of the infection", Cobbs said, according to KIRO.

Other reports by iNewsToday

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER