"We believe that she was using a device to irrigate her sinuses that some people use called a neti pot".
So, in an attempt to give the 69-year-old Seattle woman some relief, doctors recommended that she use a neti pot regularly to rinse out her sinuses.
Dr Cobbs told the Seattle Times: 'There were these amoebas 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", Cobbs added. When doctors did a CT scan, they found what they thought was a tumor but later discovered was dead tissue in her brain during an operation.
Doctors came across something they never suspected while carrying out brain surgery on a 69-year-old woman in the USA: a slushy mess of dead brain tissue.
According to the CDC, most cases of Balamuthia mandrillaris aren't diagnosed until immediately before death or after death, so doctors don't have a lot of experience treating the amoeba and know little about how a person becomes infected.
As if that wasn't bad enough luck, the woman also died from the type of amoeba that is least-known by doctors - Balamuthia mandrillaris.
Once in her body, the amoeba slowly went about its deadly work. It can kill within days, not months, according to the Seattle Times.
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Past year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also issued a warning that improper use of Neti pots and other nasal irrigation systems could lead to unsafe infections, including one with a brain-eating amoeba. Her doctor told her it was rosacea and prescribed an ointment, according to the report. "There's been about 200 cases world-wide", Dr. Cobb said. "At this point, the family made a decision to withdraw support", the report continued.
The amoeba causes a "very rare disease that is usually fatal" called granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE).
But even though the woman used tap water, the odds were in her favor that she would have been fine. "So that's what we suspect is the source of the infection", said Cobbs.
"It's extremely important to use sterile saline or sterile water", Dr. Cobbs said. There were three similar United States cases from 2008 to 2017.
The Times reported that the woman shot the contaminated water far up her nasal cavity toward olfactory nerves in the upper part of her nasal cavity, causing the brain-eating infection.
The woman's doctors say they weren't able to definitely link the infection to her neti pot, as the water supply to her home was not tested for the amoeba.