Photo of a brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri.
2 people in Louisiana died last year after irrigating their sinuses with a neti pot and tap water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the protist killed 33 people between 1998 and 2007. In the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, 32 infections were reported in the U.S. Of those cases, 30 people were infected by contaminated recreational water and two people were infected by water from a geothermal (naturally hot) drinking water supply.
The Naegleria fowleri is a micro-organism that lives in ponds, lakes, hot springs or anywhere where there is warm fresh water. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, when you drink it there’s no danger. But when you put it up your nose using a device like a neti pot, you are playing with death.
How can you get infected?
If you get it through the nose, the brain-eating will attack your nervous system until you are dead. The chances of surviving its attack are slim: 98 percent of attacks end in the morgue.
What happens if you get infected?
It’s pretty horrible. The symptoms start one to 14 days after the infection. Your taste and smell will be altered, you will have headaches, fever and nausea. Your neck will go rigid and you will start vomiting. You may also experience confusion and hallucinations, as well as seizures. Death occurs one to two weeks after exposure.
How can you avoid it?
Fortunately, you can prevent this. Just boil the water first and kill the bastard little bug.
In fact, try not to put anything up your nose and ears that hasn’t been sterilized first. It’s a common point of entry not only for this bloody thing, but also to viruses and bacteria
Sci-ence had a pretty great comic an this and Neti pots.
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