Florida resident dies from rare brain-eating amoeba

A Florida resident has died from an infection caused by a rare brain-eating amoeba, according to health officials in Charlotte County, southwest Florida.

The individual is believed to have contracted the infection after using tap water to rinse their nasal sinuses.

The amoeba responsible for the infection, known as Naegleria fowleri, enters the brain through the nose, and infections are almost always fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a statement released in February, the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County reported that a patient had been infected “possibly as a result of sinus rinse practices” using tap water.

On Thursday 2nd February 2023, the department confirmed that the individual had died and that an epidemiological investigation was underway to determine the specific circumstances surrounding the infection.

Infection with Naegleria fowleri is rare but can occur when contaminated water enters the body through the nose, according to the department’s news release.

The Florida Department of Health has warned residents to use only sterile or distilled water for sinus rinse solutions and to boil tap water for at least a minute before cooling it for use.

Tap water that has not been sterilised is not safe for use as a nasal rinse, as it may contain low levels of microorganisms, including amoebas.

Although Naegleria fowleri infections are almost always fatal, the amoeba cannot be contracted by drinking contaminated water, as stomach acid typically kills any microorganisms present.

The identity of the victim has not been disclosed.

Photo by Jos Speetjens on Unsplash