A brain-eating amoeba has killed a Florida man, state health officials reported.
The man may have acquired this very rare infection after rinsing his sinuses with tap water, the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County said in a news release.
While health officials continue to investigate the cause of the Naegleria fowleri infection, they emphasized that it can’t be contracted from drinking tap water.
These infections only happen when contaminated water enters through the sinuses, officials said.
That more typically happens from swimming in warm lakes or rivers in summer. N. fowleri grows in warm temperatures, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be found in soil and fresh water.
Health officials have not publicly identified the man who died.
Cases have been reported in United States for each of the past four years, including three cases last year that happened in Arizona, Iowa and Nebraska.
The Iowa case happened last June and involved a Missouri resident who swam in the Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County. The Nebraska case was a child who died within 10 days of being hospitalized after swimming in the Elkhorn River in August, NBC News reported.
The disease typically progresses quickly after patients have symptoms that include headaches, fever, nausea, disorientation, loss of balance, a stiff neck and seizures. Patients typically die within 18 days, NBC News reported.
Florida health officials recommended that people doing a sinus rinse, such as with a neti pot, use distilled or sterile water.
“Tap water should be boiled for at least 1 minute and cooled before sinus rinsing,” the release added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on Naegleria fowleri.
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