Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Best Post of December 2011: Naegleria-tainted neti pots possibly killed two people

Naegleria fowleria (photo courtesy of Dr. Mark Cohen)
The next in our Best of the Month series is from December 16, 2011:
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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for going the extra mile and clarifying. I firmly believe this is the job of public health officials to be crystal clear in communicating details about unusual cases such as this when so many more people would/could be potentially affected with public water sources. (Fans of underwater birthing might have taken more notice at least temporarily while water quality, sanitation and filtration systems were being investigated.) For pathologists and researchers at large academic institutions gifted with studying such rare cases, being clear about those peculiar case findings and the public health implications should be a priority now more than ever as environmental changes are now bringing a whole host of new problems. How sad and tragic for a country whose veiled economic decline will no doubt find water and food safety a problem as public works services are cut back and public health departments fall apart at the seams. Media and press coverage should be a priority. Or, I guess maybe it was.

elisa kits said...

This was old, but I agree, it's the best post ever last December 2011.