A woman died from a brain-eating amoeba after using a neti pot with tap water to clear her sinuses, USA Today reports. The 69-year-old Seattle woman was reportedly told by her doctor to use a neti pot twice daily. About a month after using the device with filtered tap water, the woman found a “quarter-sized red rash” on the right side of her nose, according to a report from the International Journal of Infectious Disease. One year after the rash developed, she reportedly had a seizure, and doctors found a half-inch lesion on her brain. When doctors removed the lesion, they noticed it had “unusual characteristics” and sent it to Johns Hopkins University for further analysis. The woman’s left arm and leg reportedly became numb, and she remained in an “altered mental” state days after surgery. When a neuropathologist finally started treatment for an amoebic infection, it was reportedly too late and the woman’s condition failed to improve. Her family eventually took her off life support.
The newspaper reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that patients use “distilled, sterile or cooled boiled water” for sinus irrigation. Johns Hopkins reportedly found that the woman died from Balamuthia mandrillaris—a soil-dwelling amoeba that can cause “deadly infection” if it travels to the brain. The CDC states that at least 70 cases of Balamuthia infection have occurred in the U.S. In 2013, a Louisiana man also reportedly died of a brain infection after using a neti pot.