Following the deaths of two people from Louisiana who contracted brain-eating amoeba infections from their own home water systems last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are warning people to follow appropriate guidelines when using a popular home remedy for sinus infections.
The victims, a 28-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman from different parts of the state, died from primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) – an almost universally fatal infection – after using neti pots filled with tap water to irrigate their sinuses.
Water samples taken from the victims’ homes tested positive for Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri), a climate-sensitive amoeba found in warm freshwater lakes and rivers. N. fowleri has over a 99 percent fatality rate, with only one known survivor in the U.S. since 1962.
The amoeba enters the body through the nose and migrates through the olfactory nerve to the brain. Symptoms, which occur one to seven days after exposure, include headache, fever, stiff neck, loss of appetite, vomiting, confusion, seizures, coma and death.