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FL man killed by brain-eating amoeba after using unboiled water in nasal rinse

Ambulance (Dreamstime/TNS)
March 08, 2023

A Florida man died last month after contracting a rare brain-eating amoeba from unboiled tap water, making it the first death of its kind in the U.S. in 2023.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that a patient died on Feb. 20 from a rare disease caused by Naegleria fowleri.

“The adult patient reportedly performed nasal rinsing daily with unboiled tap water, which is thought to be the source of the infection,” a CDC spokesperson said, according to Fox4.

The identity of the person who died from the amoeba was not released.

Florida Department Health officials confirmed in a Feb. 23 press release that the incident occurred in Charlotte County.

“DOH-Charlotte, as part of a multi-agency response, is continuing to investigate how this infection occurred and is working with the local public utilities to identify any potential links and make any necessary corrective actions,” department spokesperson Meranda Pitt said in the statement.

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The report stated that the amoeba could only affect people through the nose, not by drinking it. Drinking tap water in the area is safe from the concern, according to the report.

The report also confirmed that the victim was a male who recently lived in two different homes but would not reveal details of the man’s identity.

The CDC says that Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers or hot springs.

“Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the ameba enters the body through the nose. This typically happens when people go swimming, diving, or when they put their heads under fresh water, like in lakes and rivers,” the CDC website explains. “The ameba then travels up the nose to the brain, where it destroys the brain tissue and causes a devastating infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM is almost always fatal.”

From 2012 to 2021, only 31 infections were reported to the CDC in the U.S. and of those, 28 infections occurred from exposure to recreational water. Most cases are found among males who are 14-years-old and younger, though researchers are not clear why.