A potentially fatal 'brain-eating' amoeba case has been linked to unfiltered water in Florida
By: April Carson
A citizen of Charlotte County, Florida has recently contracted a single-celled pathogen that can cause an incredibly rare but life-threatening brain infection. This individual may have been exposed to the microorganism while using unfiltered tap water for nasal irrigation. Unfortunately, no updates have been provided regarding their current condition as this type of infection is usually fatal.
This news serves as a reminder of the importance of water safety, particularly when using it for recreational activities. Common sources of risk may include lakes, ponds, rivers, and hot springs that are not adequately treated to remove any potential contaminants. Additionally, users should be mindful of taking precautionary measures such as boiling or filtering water before use.
The CDC has warned that the single-celled organism Naegleria fowleri, commonly found in soil and warm fresh water, can also sporadically flourish within water tanks, heaters, and pipes. The CDC reports that in extremely rare cases, Naegleria fowleri amoeba can invade the human body and result in a potentially fatal brain or spinal cord infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
Unlike other infections, PAM cannot be contracted through direct contact with an infected individual; instead, it is caused by the single-celled organism entering the nose and traveling up to the olfactory nerve which sends smell information from your nose directly to your brain.
In light of the recent case in Florida, it is important to keep in mind that Naegleria fowleri amoeba thrives under certain conditions and can typically be found in warm fresh water.
Symptoms of the infection caused by Naegleria fowleri may surface anywhere between one and 12 days after it enters a person's nose. Unfortunately, this type of contamination is usually fatal - death often occurs within one to 18 days following symptom onset. Last Thursday, the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County confirmed a local case that might be connected to the use of tap water during sinus rinsing rituals.
The Florida Department of Health is urging people to avoid using tap water for any form of nasal irrigation. Furthermore, they suggest that people stick to boiled and cooled tap water, or distilled or sterile water, specifically when irrigating their sinuses via a neti pot or another device.
Exercising caution and prudence is of utmost importance when it comes to net pots or other sinus irrigation practices. Accordingly, the Food and Drug Administration strictly states that tap water should not be employed due to its lack of filtration and treatment. To ensure safety, one can boil the tap water before use or filter it through a system created for trapping infectious organisms; otherwise, using distilled or sterile water is an advisable solution provided by this agency.
As part of a broader effort, DOH-Charlotte is actively examining how this contagion originated and collaborating with the local public utilities to identify any possible connections and take necessary remedial actions. This agency is also recommending public water customers take precautions when swimming in fresh waters and refrain from allowing untreated water to go up their noses.
Ultimately, everyone needs to remain aware of the risks posed by this amoeba and adhere to necessary safety protocols. DOH-Charlotte is committed to informing the public and doing its part in protecting them from this potentially deadly pathogen.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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