Seattle (CNN) – Seattle woman washed her sinus with tap water. One year later she died of a brain amoeba.
Her case is reported this week in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The 69-year-old, whose name was not given, had a long sinus infection. For a month, she tried to get rid of her using a net pot with tap water instead of using sterile water as recommended.
Net pots are used to pour saline in one nostril and on the other to irrigate the sinus, usually to fight allergies or infections.
According to the doctors who treat the woman, the non-sterile water she used was believed to contain Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba that, over the course of weeks or months, could cause a very rare and almost always fatal infection in the brain.
Once in his body, the amoeba is slowly going for his deadly work.
First, she unfolded a horny red pain on the bridge of her nose. Doctors believe it is a rash and prescribes an antibiotic ointment, but that does not provide relief. Over a year, dermatologists were diagnosed.
Then the left side of the female body began to tremble. She had a fainting that weakened her left hand. A CT study shows an unusual lesion in her brain, indicating she may have a tumor, so the doctors sent a sample of tissue for testing.
Over the next few days, additional scans have revealed that everything that happens in her brain is getting worse. The mass grows and new lesions appear.
Finally, a neurosurgeon at the Swedish medical center where the woman is being treated opens her skull to study her brain and finds it infected with amoeba.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rushed to Seattle to try to save the woman's life, but she fell into a coma and died.
According to the CDC, most cases of Balamuthia mandrillaris are not diagnosed immediately before or after death, so doctors have little experience in amoeba treatment and do not know much about how to get infected.
The Améba was opened in 1986. Since 1993, the CDC has said that there are at least 70 cases in the United States.
As with the Seattle woman, infections are "almost equally fatal", with a mortality rate of over 89%, according to the doctors who were treating her and the CDC.
The Amoeba is similar to Naegleria fowleri, which is the culprit on several occasions.
In 2011, Luisiana's health officials warned residents not to use non-sterilized tap water in net pots after the death of two people who were exposed to Naegleria fowleri while they flushed their nasal passages. Officially urged consumers to fill the pots with distilled, sterile or pre-boiled water only and rinse and dry them after each use.
"Incorrect nasal irrigation has been reported as a method of infection for a relatively insidious amoeba," doctors say in the Seattle woman research paper. "This precedent has led us to suspect that the American amoeba has the same route."
Women's doctors say they have failed to link the infection to the pot because the water supply in her home has not been tested for amoeba. They hope that her case will allow other doctors to understand that they should consider amoeba infection if the patient gets pain or rash on the nose after rinsing the sinuses.
Kristen Maki, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Health in Washington, said in e-mail that "large municipal water sources … have reliable programs to protect water from the source" and treatment programs and notes that "Well-Protected Supplies of Underground it is logical to expect to be released from every such big amoeba "like Balamutia.