A 51-year-old woman from DeSoto Parish and a 20-year-old man from St. Bernard Parish, a suburb of New Orleans, died after using Neti pots containing tap water to flush their sinuses. Both became infected with Naegleria fowleri, a parasite known as the brain-eating amoeba.
"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," Louisiana State epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said in a statement. "Tap water is safe for drinking but not for irrigating your nose."
Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose to cause primary amoebic meningoencephalitis -- a brain infection with symptoms similar to those of bacterial meningitis. Headache, fever, nausea and stiff neck swiftly give way to confusion, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations. And if left untreated, the infection can cause death within one to 12 days.
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