The woman’s doctors say they think her death was ultimately tied to her use of the Neti pot.
“She had not been boiling water, using sterile water or using sterile saline. She had been using water that had been put through a filter and maybe it had been sitting there and somehow the amoeba from somewhere else got in there. So that’s what we suspect is the source of the infection,” said Cobbs. “This is so rare there have only been like 200 cases ever.”
Doctors who treated the woman also believe that the sore on her nose was connected. They wrote a case study for the International Journal of Infectious Diseases to educate other doctors on their rare findings.
“I believe it actually got in the bloodstream and somehow ended up in the brain. Because it wasn’t directly from the nose to the brain, it somehow ended up in the brain way back here,” said Cobbs, pointing to the back of his head.
Health officials say Neti pots can be safe to use as long as you follow the instructions and fill them only with boiled or distilled water.
“It’s not something to be scared about because it’s extraordinarily rare, but still there’s a lot to learn,” Cobbs said.
Last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alsoand other nasal irrigation systems could lead to dangerous infections, including one with a brain-eating amoeba.
To use and care for your Neti pot or similar device, the FDA recommends:
- Wash and dry your hands.
- Check that the device is clean and completely dry.
- Prepare the saline rinse, either with the prepared mixture supplied with the device, or one you make yourself.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
- Wash the device, and dry the inside with a paper towel or let it air dry between uses.
Talk with your health care provider or pharmacist if the instructions do not clearly state how to use it or if you have any questions. Also consult your doctor before using any nasal irrigation systems if your immune system is weakened for any reason.
Finally, some children diagnosed with nasal allergies as early as the age of 2 may benefit from nasal rinses. However, parents should consult with their pediatrician before use on children.