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Tap Water Used in Neti Pots Tied to Rare, Fatal Brain Infection
Date:8/23/2012

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Two people in Louisiana died last year from a rare brain infection contracted after using neti pots containing tap water to flush their sinuses.

The infection, known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis, occurs after water containing the amoeba Naegleria fowleri enters the nose and travels through the olfactory nerve into the brain.

This is the first time tap water and neti pots have been connected to infection with N. fowleri, according to a report appearing online Aug. 23 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Neti pots are small vessels that are filled with water and saline solution and used to flush the sinuses.

Although the infection is extremely rare, it is almost uniformly fatal, said Dr. Ann Falsey, a professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who was not involved with the study.

According to Jonathan Yoder, lead author of the paper, 123 cases have been reported since 1962, the year it was discovered. Yoder is coordinator of waterborne diseases and outbreak surveillance at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

N. fowleri is generally found in warmish freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers and can be contracted by swimming, fishing, boating, diving or tubing in such bodies of water.

The first patient to succumb to the infection via a neti pot was a 28-year-old man from southern Louisiana who developed a severe headache along with neck stiffness, back pain and vomiting on June 5, 2011. The next day he arrived at a New Orleans hospital disoriented, confused and combative.

He received a tentative diagnosis of amebic meningoencephalitis, was treated immediately with a combination of drugs but nevertheless died in the neurologic critical care unit on June 8.

The man lived with his mother, who reported that he had not been near any fr
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