Seattle Woman Dies After Brain-Eating Amoeba Enters Her Body

Seattle Woman Dies After Brain-Eating Amoeba Enters Her Body

According to the doctors who treated the woman, the non-sterile water that she used it thought to have contained Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba that over the course of weeks to months can cause a very rare and nearly always fatal infection in the brain. Infectious disease doctors contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and they sent medicine for the rare condition, but the woman could not be saved. The report states she used tap water that had been filtered by a Brita water purifier. Researchers believe that she contracted the amoeba while using the neti pot because she used filtered tap water rather than saline or sterile water, the latter of which is recommended. Her doctor tells The Seattle Times there was "amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells".

Tissue taken from the woman's brain during the procedure would later confirm the presence of the amoeba, specifically Balamuthia mandrillaris - which cause a rare but potentially deadly brain-eating infection known as granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE), according to the publication. 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.

One year later, she had a seizure, and "lost cognition", according to the report. Ninety percent of those cases were fatal.

A person can not get infected from swallowing water contaminated with it, and it can not pass from person to person. It is the first fatality from this kind of infection in the state.

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The amoeba is similar to Naegleria fowleri, which has been the culprit in several high-profile cases. The CDC rushed a brand-new drug to doctors in an effort to save the woman, but she died from the infection.

A neurosurgeon from Swedish Medical Center in Seattle said this is a rare situation but is warning patients to be sure to follow the directions when using a Neti pot for nasal congestion, and use only boiled or distilled water. But when Cobbs operated, he discovered something much more disturbing. Repeat CT imaging demonstrated further haemorrhage into the original resection cavity.

The contaminated water went up the woman's nose "toward [the] olfactory nerves in the upper part of her nasal cavity", The Seattle Times reported, which ultimately caused the infection which first appeared as a red sore on her nose. Within a week, she was in a coma, and her family made a decision to take her off life support.

"It's extremely important to use sterile saline or sterile water", Dr. Cobbs said.

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