Officials in Louisiana are investigating whether two people, a 51-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, both contracted a brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri after using tap water in their neti pots. The two victims died from the infection and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has since issued a warning.
“If you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, for example, by using a neti pot, use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution,” said Louisiana State Epidemiologist, Dr. Raoult Ratard said. “Tap water is safe for drinking, but not for irrigating your nose.”
According to Livescience, the deadly amoeba is not generally dangerous unless forced into the sinuses where it can then easily attack the brain. Once a person is infected, they contract a neurological disease that destroys neural tissue. The victim then dies in a few days.
The disease, while rare, is most commonly contracted after inhaling water from a lake, pond or river. If investigators confirm the two victims died after using tap water from a neti pot it will be the first time the disease has been contracted from tap water.
This scare story concerns me because I recently got a kind of a neti pot. Actually, it is a plastic bottle designed specifically to squirt salty water up your nose. I've got a referral to an allergy clinic. Maybe they can look for amoeba while they're poking around up there.