Unidentified Florida man dies from rare 'brain-eating amoeba' infection after he washed his nostrils with tap water

Unidentified Florida man dies from rare 'brain-eating amoeba' infection after he washed his nostrils with tap water
The unidentified person contracted a Naegleria fowleri infection after washing their nostrils with tap water (KHOU 11/ YouTube video screenshot, Representational image/ Getty Images)

TEMPA, FLORIDA: Federal health officials have reported that a man from Florida has died after acquiring an extremely rare "brain-eating" infection that might have been brought on by drinking tap water. The individual had a  Naegleria fowleri infection after they washed their nostrils with tap water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient died on February 20, 2023, as per several reports.


"The adult patient reportedly performed nasal rinsing daily with unboiled tap water, which is thought to be the source of the infection," the CDC stated, as reported by Fox News. The CDC further stated that this brain-eating amoeba infection was the first instance of the rare fatal infection in 2023 and the first ever recorded in the US during the winter.


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Where did the incident take place?

The CDC did not specify where in the state the patient resided, but state health officials said in a news release that Charlotte County, in the southwest of the Sunshine State, had reported a case of Naegleria fowleri. The unnamed individual was killed on February 20 by an amoeba, a single-celled organism, in Charlotte County, about 70 miles south of Tampa.


What did health officials say?

The health officials said that the investigation into the infection is ongoing. "DOH-Charlotte, as part of a multi-agency response, is continuing to investigate how this infection occurred and is working with the local public utilities to identify any potential link and make any necessary corrective actions," the Florida Department of Health stated in the press release about the case.

'157 confirmed cases between 1962 and 2022'

"Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled living organism that can live in fresh water and is commonly called the "brain-eating amoeba," as per CDC. The amoebic water can enter the nose and result in a brain illness. Since the amoeba flourishes in warm freshwater environments like hot springs and lakes, the rare infection is common in the summer. Young males, particularly those under 14, are diagnosed with the majority of infections, as per Daily Mail. It only infects about three people a year, but those cases typically end in death, according to the federal health agency. According to the CDC, there were 157 confirmed instances nationwide between 1962 and 2022, with 37 of those cases being linked to Florida.


What are the treatments?

Amoeba causes a condition called Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, also known as PAM or amebic meningitis. An initial headache, nausea, and vomiting are among the signs. As events develop, a person may experience cognitive signs and a stiff neck. The brain and spinal cord experience severe swelling and ultimately rot. Almost always, this will result in death. PAM currently has no known effective therapies, reports Daily Mail.

Sinus rinsing involves a person putting water into one nasal and then out the other in an effort to remove mucus and other debris. Before using water to wash their noses, residents are advised by local authorities to boil it for at least one minute to kill any remaining bacteria or dangerous chemicals. They also advise against putting heads underwater in the bathtub, allowing kids to play with sprinklers unattended, and avoiding slip-and-slides. These precautions apply whether you're bathing, swimming, or using a blow-up pool. 

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 Florida man dies from rare 'brain-eating amoeba' infection after washing nostrils with tap water