|Naegleria fowleria (photo courtesy of Dr. Mark Cohen)|
Now that it's winter and our noses and sinuses are being dried out by our heating systems, many of us turn to neti pots (also known as 'nose bidets'). The illustrious J. Clay Goodman, MD, neuropathologist at Baylor, just sent me an article from The Houston Chronicle warning people to use distilled, bottled, or boiled water. Officials in Louisiana are investigating whether a 51-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man both contracted the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri after using tap water in their neti pots. The disease, while rare, is most commonly contracted after inhaling water from a lake, pond or river. If investigators confirm the two victims died after using tap water from a neti pot it will be the first time the disease has been contracted from tap water.
Update on May 29, 2012: A comment was left in the original post suggesting that the water used in the two deaths may have resulted from the use of well water, not tap water. I was unable to confirm that contention in an internet search on the topic. All the news sources I consulted state that the water was indeed tap water.