Floridians are being warned not to wash their face or take showers after a man died from a brain-eating amoeba infection, possibly contracted while rinsing his sinuses with a neti pot.
Charlotte County, Florida, health officials issued a press release confirming the man died after he was infected with the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri.
The man was probably infected after swimming in a pond or lake, or while using a neti pot “utilizing tap water,” according to a news release from the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County.
Now health officials are warning residents to avoid getting tap water in their nose by washing their face or taking a shower.
Dr Mobeen Rathore, an infectious disease expert from the University of Florida, told DailyMail.com that residents should avoid exposing their nose to tap water – including while showering – until the water is chemically treated to eliminate the deadly parasites.
“Unless it’s cleared [by local health authorities] you should avoid any [tap] water going into the nose — at least for now. In the shower, avoid getting anything into the nose.”
The infection “can only happen when water contaminated with amoebae enters the body through the nose,” such as while swimming in a lake or using a neti pot, according to the health department’s news release.
According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the amoeba is found in tap water that has not been adequately filtered or treated.
Early signs and symptoms of infection with brain-eating amoebas include severe headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting. Signs and symptoms can progress to a stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations, delirium, coma and death.
If caught early, the infection is treated with drugs, including antibiotics, antifungals, and antimicrobials.
The health department advises residents who utilize neti pots to use distilled or sterile water. Tap water should be boiled for at least a minute and cooled before using a neti pot.