A Seattle woman is dead after brain-eating amoeba entered her body.
Doctors think she became infected by doing something at home typically thought to keep your sinuses healthy.
“Frankly, it was the last thing I had in my mind when I went in to operate on what I thought was a typical brain tumor,” Dr. Charles Cobbs, a neurosurgeon, said.
Cobbs, a neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center, operated on a 69-year-old woman who was suffering from seizures.
He removed a brain tumor that was the size of a dime and sent a sample to a pathologist at Johns Hopkins for a second opinion.
“He thought it looked suspicious for amoeba infection. I was pretty much shocked because I’d never seen that before.”
The woman’s condition quickly worsened, and when he did a second surgery.
“It had grown from about dime sized to about the size of a baseball at that point.”
He said amoeba eat brain tissue.
The woman told doctors she used a Neti pot on a regular basis.
“She had not been boiling water or using sterile water or using sterile saline. She had been using water that had been put through a filter and maybe it had been sitting there and somehow the amoeba from somewhere else got in there. So that’s what we suspect is the source of the infection.”
There are warnings on the package of a Neti pot. It says “do not use with tap water”.
“This is so rare, there have only been like 200 cases, ever.”
The Seattle woman had a sore on her nose for about nine months.
While it was biopsied, there was no reason to think it would be caused by an amoeba. Now they think it was.
“It’s not something to be scared about because it’s extraordinarily rare, but still there’s a lot to learn.”
Doctors made the diagnosis while the woman was still alive.
The Centers for Disease Control overnighted medicine to the hospital, but it arrived too late to save her.