Seattle Woman Dies After Brain-Eating Amoeba Enters Her Body

So, in an attempt to give the 69-year-old Seattle woman some relief, doctors recommended that she use a neti pot regularly to rinse out her sinuses.

Doctors took the woman into critical care and quickly sent word to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which rushed a shipment of an anti-amoeba drug called miltefosine.

But even though the woman used tap water, the odds were in her favor that she would have been fine. However, instead of using sterile water, she used tap water that had been run through a store-bought filter.

"When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush", neurosurgeon Charles Cobbs told the Seattle Times.

The woman's brain infection went undiagnosed for so long because the type of amoeba she had was so uncommon and also moves very slowly, the Times stated. Unlike N. fowleri, however, which kills its human victims in a matter of days, the B. mandrillaris amoeba requires more time to inflict its damage. But what doctors initially thought was a brain tumor turned out to be rare amoebas that were attacking her brain.

"Then, about one year after the initial development of the nasal rash, the patient was seen at an outside hospital due to a left upper extremity focal seizure". According to the CDC, the amoeba was discovered in 1986 and officially declared a new species in 1993.

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You can't get the infection from drinking contaminated water or swimming in a properly chlorinated pool, and it hasn't been shown to spread through vapor from a hot shower or humidifier, according to the CDC. In cases involving N. fowleri, for example, people have contracted the amoeba by jumping into a lake and having water shoot up their noses.

But when Cobbs operated to remove the mass, "it was just dead brain tissue", making it hard to determine what it actually was.

Despite the surgeons' best efforts, the woman died a month later.

Shortly after contracting the amoeba, the woman developed a red sore on her nose, which was misdiagnosed as the common skin condition rosacea. Tap water can contain tiny organisms that are safe to drink but could survive in nasal passages. Repeat CT imaging demonstrated further haemorrhage into the original resection cavity.

The study was authored by Swedish doctors and researchers who worked on her case, including Cobbs. Within a week, she was in a coma, and her family made a decision to take her off life support.

Health officials suggest using only distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to rinse sinuses.

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