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Changing epidemiology of rare disease links sinus irrigation with contaminated tap water, 2 deaths
Date:8/22/2012

und that these were unable to reduce the number of N. fowleri organisms within a four-hour timeframefar outside the real world conditions of less than a minute that most people spendshowing that simply adding salt mixtures to tap water does not inactivate the organisms fast enough. As a result, Yoder advises that the simplest methods to avoid infection is to purchase water that is labeled as distilled or sterile, or use only water that was previously boiled for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for 3 minutes) that has been left to cool, or use water that has gone through a filter with a pore size of 1 micron or smaller.

Many infections from N. fowleri occur in warm freshwater locations following localized heat waves. Whether projected climate change could lead to an expansion of the ameba's geographic range is unknown, the authors noted. They recommend that systematic environmental sampling be carried out to document changes in the ecology of N. fowleri so that measures to prevent its spread can be improved. It is also important to raise the level of awareness about the disease among physicians treating patients with meningitis-like symptoms, the authors wrote.

Deaths from N. fowleri infection, which remain very rare, "are tragic for the families of those infected," Yoder said. "The CDC is working to understand this organism so that we can improve prevention recommendations, identify N. fowleri infections, and improve clinical treatment."

Fast Facts

  1. Primary amebic meningoencephalitis is a very rare but usually fatal disease caused when water containing Naegleria fowleri amebae enters the nose, allowing the single-celled organisms to migrate to the brain.
  2. In 2011, two fatal cases of the disease reported from Louisiana occurred in persons following nasal irrigation. This is the first time that contaminated tap water coming from a disinfected municipal water system has b
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Contact: Laurel White
lwhite@pcipr.com
312-558-1770
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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