Florida Man Dies From Brain-Eating Amoeba After Tap Water Goes Up His Nose, Health Officials Issue Warning

Neti Pot
Sinus cleaning, using devices such as Neti Pot, should only be done with distilled or sterile water, health officials warn.Getty

Florida health authorities have issued a warning following the death of a man from a rare brain-eating infection caused by rinsing his sinuses with tap water.

A man in south Florida has died from a rare, brain-eating amoeba after using tap water to rinse his sinuses, authorities said.

The death has led to warnings from state and federal health officials about the proper way to conduct the increasingly popular use of water to flush clogged nasal passages.

Only distilled or sterile water should be used for rinsing sinuses, Florida's Charlotte County Health Department warned. Tap water should be boiled for at least one minute and cooled before using. 

The man who died late last month had contracted Naegleria fowleri, an extremely rare amoeba can destroy the human brain, health officials said. The single-celled organism enters the body through the nose.

Florida health authorities also cautioned against allowing water to go up your nose or sniffing water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small blow-up or plastic pools.

Parents were also warned to supervise children playing in sprinklers or using Slip ’N Slide devices to ensure kids don't get water up their noses. Water toys and small pools should be scrubbed and disinfected after each use and allowed to dry, health officials said.

Drinking tap water is perfectly safe because stomach acids destroy the brain-eating amoeba, health authorities said. Anyone who gets untreated tap water up their nose should seek immediate medical attention if experiencing any of these symptoms: 

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Seizures
  • Loss of balance
  • Hallucinations

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