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Rare brain-eating amoebas killed Seattle woman who rinsed her sinuses with tap water. Doctor warns this could happen again

Posted on Saturday, 8th December 2018 @ 03:05 PM by Text Size A | A | A

When a 69-year-old Seattle woman underwent brain surgery earlier this year at Swedish Medical Center, her doctors were stumped.

Last January, the woman was admitted to the hospital’s emergency department after suffering a seizure. Doctors took a CT scan of her brain to determine the cause, finding what they initially thought was a tumor. But an examination of tissue taken from her brain during surgery a day later showed she was up against a much deadlier attack, one that had been underway for about a year and was literally eating her alive.  

 

“When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush,” Dr. Charles Cobbs, neurosurgeon at Swedish, said in a phone interview. “There were these amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells. We didn’t have any clue what was going on, but when we got the actual tissue we could see it was the amoeba.”

 

The woman died a month later from the rare organisms that entered her brain after being injected into her nasal cavity by way of a neti pot, a teapot-shaped product used to rinse out the sinuses and nasal cavity, according to a case study recently published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The study was authored by Swedish doctors and researchers who worked on her case, including Cobbs. The publication doesn’t identify the victim.

The woman’s infection is the second ever reported in Seattle — the first came in 2013 — but the first fatality to be caused by it. In 1990, researchers first became aware that this type of amoeba can cause disease in people, according to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in November. That report found there have been 109 cases of the amoeba reported in the U.S. between 1974 and 2016. Ninety percent of those cases were fatal.

Read the rest here: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/rare-brain-eating-amoebas-kill-seattle-woman-leave-doctors-bracing-for-possible-repeats/

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A North Carolina waterpark has closed after a teen girl was killed by a brain-eating amoeba. The 18-year-old got the death disease while taking part in a whitewater rafting. Authorities said Lauren Seitz was exposed to the amoeba at the US National Whitewater Center (USNWC) when she was riding a raft that overturned. “Initial test results found naegleria fowleri DNA was present in the whitewater system,” the USNWC said in a statement.

A junior athlete from Houston, Texas, has died from a rare brain-eating amoeba infection after swimming in a lake with teammates. He is the fourth person this year killed by the single-cell organism, which thrives in stagnant water during the summer. Michael Riley Jr, 14, was a star track runner who qualified for the Junior Olympics. On August 13, he and his teammates visited a state park some 70 miles (110 km) north of Houston, and went swimming in a lake after a day of workouts. A week after the trip, Riley registered a slight fever and began complaining about a headache, his family said.

A 21-year-old California woman died from an amoeba that settles in the brain and destroys its tissue. The disease she contracted is called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). It is rare, with only zero to eight cases reported a year, says Inyo Public Health officer Dr. Richard Johnson. But it is almost 100 percent fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the presence of a brain-eating amoeba in the water supply for the Louisiana communities of Reserve, Garyville and Mount Airy.

The water is safe to drink, state officials said, although they cautioned against getting water in the nose.

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