man touching painful sinuses
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
March 3, 2024 ·  3 min read

Man Dies of Brain-Eating Amoeba After Rinsing Sinuses with Tap Water

A man in Florida has died of a brain-eating amoeba after rinsing his sinuses with tap water. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the man’s death was caused by Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic organism that can be fatal if it enters the body. The CDC is now trying to determine if there is more Naegleria fowleri contamination in the tap water to hopefully prevent anyone else from contracting this deadly infection.

Man In Florida Dies of Brain Eating Amoeba After Nasal Rinsing With Tap Water

A Florida man died after contracting the brain eating amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri. He reportedly was performing daily nasal rinses with un-boiled tap water. This is what led to the infection, which is only contracted through the nose. The CDC says that the amoeba is commonly found in warm bodies of freshwater, such as lakes and rivers. It can also be found in soil, especially sandy soils that have been watered by runoff from a nearby water source. (1)

The CDC has since announced that they are launching an investigation to determine the cause of the infection. They want to determine how and why this bacteria was in the tap water, as well as monitor for any other infections in the state. This is the first case of a brain eating amoeba this year and the first-ever case reported during the winter months in the United States.

What Is Naegleria Fowleri, The Brain Eating Amoeba?

Naegleria fowleri is known as a brain-eating amoeba because it eats away at brain tissue and causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. This infection is caused by the Naegleria fowleri bacteria and is usually fatal. The infection is usually caused by swimming in warm water or jumping into dirty lakes, rivers, and hot springs. It is primarily contracted through the nose. The disease has an incredibly high fatality rate; only two people have ever survived an infection from the amoeba. (2, 3)

What Are The Symptoms of a Naegleria fowleri Infection?

If you do contract an infection from Naegleria fowleri, you are likely to experience headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting within one week of exposure. If left untreated, this condition will progress to stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and hallucinations. It will then typically cause death within five days of symptoms appearing. There is no vaccine or other treatment available at this time except for supportive care while your body naturally fights off the infection.

There are, unfortunately, not many treatment options for Naegleria fowleri infections. The only treatment available for a Naegleria fowleri infection is to reduce stress on your body and give it time to fight off the amoeba. This usually involves sedating you and putting you on a ventilator while doctors try alleviating pressure on your brain.

How Do You Get a Naegleria fowleri Infection?

Naegleria fowleri infections are extremely rare. In the United States, only about 35 cases have been reported since 1973. However, it is still important to know how you can get one so that you can take steps to avoid it. Naegleria fowleri is found in hot springs, warm lakes, and rivers. It is also common in poorly maintained swimming pools and water heaters. The amoeba can thrive in these environments because they are warm and still have plenty of nutrients available to them.

The amoeba can also live in poorly maintained faucets and showerheads. This is why it is important to maintain your water heater, hot tub, and swimming pool properly by replacing filters and keeping your water at the right temperature. If you use tap water, it is important to ensure it is properly chlorinated. As amoeba cannot survive in chlorinated water, this will help prevent infection. You should also avoid swimming in warm freshwater lakes and rivers during the summer months when temperatures are high, and rainfall is low.

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  1. Florida Man Dies of Brain-Eating Amoeba After Rinsing Sinuses with Tap Water.” People. Vanessa Etienne. March 2, 2023.
  2. Naegleria fowleri — Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) — Amebic Encephalitis.” CDC
  3. Amebic Meningitis.” CDC