Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sinus irrigation with tap water linked to two deaths

Date:
August 23, 2012
Source:
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Summary:
When water containing the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, a single-celled organism, enters the nose, the organisms may migrate to the brain, causing primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a very rare -- but usually fatal -- disease. A new study has described the first reported cases in the United States implicating nasal irrigation using tap water in these infections. "N. fowleri was found in water samples from both homes," researchers said, but "not found in the treatment plants or distribution systems of the municipal water systems servicing the patients' homes."

When water containing the Naegleria fowleri ameba, a single-celled organism, enters the nose, the organisms may migrate to the brain, causing primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a very rare -- but usually fatal -- disease. A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases describes the first reported cases in the United States implicating nasal irrigation using tap water in these infections.

Related Articles


Now available online, the study highlights the changing epidemiology of this uncommon disease, as well as the importance of using appropriately treated water for nasal irrigation.

From 2002 to 2011, 32 N. fowleri infections were reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this latest study, Jonathan Yoder, MPH, coordinator of waterborne diseases and outbreak surveillance at CDC, reports the work of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and CDC in investigating two cases in 2011 in Louisiana. Two unrelated patients, a 28-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman, each died within five days of being admitted to the hospital with meningitis-like symptoms. Both had used a neti pot for regular sinus irrigation. Because family members of both patients were certain the patients had no recent history of recreational freshwater contact, which is typically associated with the disease, sinus irrigation using disinfected (chloraminated) tap water was implicated.

"N. fowleri was found in water samples from both homes," Yoder said, but "not found in the treatment plants or distribution systems of the municipal water systems servicing the patients' homes." Although it was never clear how N. fowleri were introduced into the plumbing of the patients' houses, once there, the organisms were able to colonize the hot water systems.

In addition, Yoder's team also tested commercially available reconstituted salt packets for use with neti pots and found that these were unable to reduce the number of N. fowleri organisms within a four-hour timeframe -- far outside the real world conditions of less than a minute that most people spend -- showing that simply adding salt mixtures to tap water does not inactivate the organisms fast enough. As a result, Yoder advises that the simplest methods to avoid infection is to purchase water that is labeled as distilled or sterile, or use only water that was previously boiled for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for 3 minutes) that has been left to cool, or use water that has gone through a filter with a pore size of 1 micron or smaller.

Many infections from N. fowleri occur in warm freshwater locations following localized heat waves. Whether projected climate change could lead to an expansion of the ameba's geographic range is unknown, the authors noted. They recommend that systematic environmental sampling be carried out to document changes in the ecology of N. fowleri so that measures to prevent its spread can be improved. It is also important to raise the level of awareness about the disease among physicians treating patients with meningitis-like symptoms, the authors wrote.

Deaths from N. fowleri infection, which remain very rare, "are tragic for the families of those infected," Yoder said. "The CDC is working to understand this organism so that we can improve prevention recommendations, identify N. fowleri infections, and improve clinical treatment."

Fast Facts

  1. Primary amebic meningoencephalitis is a very rare but usually fatal disease caused when water containing Naegleria fowleri amebae enters the nose, allowing the single-celled organisms to migrate to the brain.
  2. In 2011, two fatal cases of the disease reported from Louisiana occurred in persons following nasal irrigation. This is the first time that contaminated tap water coming from a disinfected municipal water system has been linked to N. fowleri infections in the United States.
  3. For prevention, health officials advise using only previously boiled, filtered, distilled, or sterilized water when making solutions for irrigating, flushing, or rinsing the sinuses.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Infectious Diseases Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Infectious Diseases Society of America. "Sinus irrigation with tap water linked to two deaths." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823091050.htm>.
Infectious Diseases Society of America. (2012, August 23). Sinus irrigation with tap water linked to two deaths. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823091050.htm
Infectious Diseases Society of America. "Sinus irrigation with tap water linked to two deaths." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823091050.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins