According to the doctors who treated the woman, the non-sterile water that she used it thought to have contained Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba that over the course of weeks to months can cause a very rare and nearly always fatal infection in the brain. Upon further investigation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention subsequently made a decision to test the water at a Texas surf resort he visited before getting sick. This single-celled organism is not to be confused with Naegleria fowleri, another brain-eating amoeba that also lives in freshwater. The report states she used tap water that had been filtered by a Brita water purifier.
She used the device over the span of a year.
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A woman who met a tragic fate after routinely rinsing out her sinuses is thought to have died because she put tap water in her neti pot.
"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.
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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. Unlike N. fowleri, however, which kills its human victims in a matter of days, the B. mandrillaris amoeba requires more time to inflict its damage. According to the CDC, the amoeba was discovered in 1986 and officially declared a new species in 1993. Although extremely rare, B. mandrillari is deadly, with nearly 90 percent of cases of infection resulting in death.
People can't be infected by simply swallowing water contaminated with amoebas. It wasn't until the woman suffered a stroke, and had CT scans done of her brain, that the brain tumour was diagnosed - or more accurately, misdiagnosed. Although the risk of infection to the brain is extremely low, people who use neti pots or other nasal-irrigation devices can almost eliminate it by following directions printed on the devices, including using only saline or sterilized water, Maree said.
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Eventually she reportedly developed a rash on her nose and raw skin near her nostrils, which was misdiagnosed as rosacea, a skin condition. But an examination of tissue taken from her brain during surgery a day later showed she was up against a much deadlier attack, one that had been underway for about a year and was literally eating her alive. "At this point, the family chose to withdraw support". Instead, distilled or sterile water should be used, or boiled and cooled water.