Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
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Doctors say amoebas in tap water turned woman's brain into 'bloody mush'

Doctors say amoebas in tap water turned woman's brain into 'bloody mush'

When Dr Cobbs next operated on the woman, the growth had grown to the size of a baseball, and that too much of her brain tissue had been killed for medics to save her.

The CDC rushed a brand-new drug to doctors in an effort to save the woman, but she died from the infection.

The woman, doctors realized, had been infected with Balamuthia mandrillaris, a type of amoeba that can infect the brain and cause massive damage.

"The pathologist was able to look at it under a microscope and see the characteristic, actually the amoeba, in the tissue", said Dr. Charles Cobbs, Swedish Neuroscience Institute. Although this is extremely rare, an elderly person persistently flushing unsterilized water up their nose is a sure fire way to raise those odds. Her doctor tells The Seattle Times there was "amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells".

They think that she did so with tap water for a year, and that this may have led to the amoeba infecting her brain. "There's been about 200 cases worldwide", Dr. Cobbs said. It appeared to be a relatively common form of brain tumor, so they promptly put her on the operating table.


In order to prevent any risk of infection, people should always read the instructions on a neti pot and only use saline or sterile water. CNN reports that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention subsequently began testing the water at a Texas surf resort he visited before getting sick.

As reported by the Seattle Times, a woman was admitted to a local hospital's emergency department after suffering a seizure in January.

"Most of the cases reported in the United States where this happen are from people using shallow well water or other sources that are known to be at higher risk of contamination", she told Global News.

Patel stressed that rinsing the sinuses with salt water is an extremely safe and effective method of keeping the sinuses clear, "as long as patients know to use distilled water when they are doing it".

"If you do use a neti pot, for instance, you should be very aware that it has to be absolute sterile water or sterile saline", said Dr. Cobb.

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