Careful use of neti pot advised after woman contracts rare but fatal brain infection

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By Shamard Charles, M.D.

A report this week about a Seattle woman who died from a brain-eating amoeba after using a neti pot has users of the nasal irrigation device worried. But doctors say the infection is exceedingly rare, and note that careful use of the neti pot is very important.

The 69-year-old woman, who had a chronic sinus infection, used tap water filtered by a Brita water purifier, according to a report published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“Fortunately, these amoebic infections are quite rare, but we have documented that some have occurred due to use of tap water in neti pots,” Dr. Jennifer Copeland, a medical epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC News on Friday. “The message we want people to hear is that if you use the neti pot you should not use tap water directly.”