The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is warning residents about the dangers of the improper use of neti pots.
The warning follows the state’s second death this year caused by Naegleria fowleri, the so-called brain-eating ameba.
A 51-year-old DeSoto Parish woman died after using tap water in a neti pot to irrigate her sinuses. She became infected with the deadly ameba.
A 20-year-old St. Bernard Parish man died under the same circumstances.
Infection by Naegleria fowleri is a rare condition that infects people by entering the body through the nose. In the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, 32 infections were reported in the US. Of those cases, 30 people were infected by contaminated recreational water and two people were infected by water from a geothermal (naturally hot) drinking water supply.
The bottom line?
“If you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, for example, by using a neti pot, use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution,” said Louisiana State Epidemiologist, Dr. Raoult Ratard.
“Tap water is safe for drinking, but not for irrigating your nose.” It’s also important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.