"Brain-eating" amoebas kill woman who used filtered tap water in neti pot


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/07/brain-eating-amoeba-kill-w.html


Last time I looked at the instructions on mine it explicitly stated to never use any type of water without boiling it and cooking it first.


There was a similar case not too long ago involving a New Orleans resident. I wouldn’t drink the tap water in NoLa, never mind shoving it up my nose.

I’m wondering how long it will be before boiling it for three minutes fails to do the trick. Are we going to see super-amoebas emerge?


Isn’t distilled water both sterile enough and inexpensive enough to use? My ENT said tap water was sufficient, but I never trusted municipal water enough to pour it up my nose.


Distilled water isn’t necessarily sterile. I can’t think of any benefit to using distilled water with a neti pot.


The FDA recommends distilled for use with a netti pot and at least one pharmaceutical company does as well.


Huh. Thanks for the links. I don’t understand why distilled would matter unless you know for certain that everything the water has touched since is clean.


Boil the water. Cool. Rinse. Repeat.


After reading this horror story you could say that using sterile water or saline seems like a no brainer


The point is more that destilled is safer than tap.


Medical sterile saline and sometimes plain water is available at most drug stores in small jugs. Usually used for wound care, but it would probably be wise to use it any time you’re shooting water into an orifice prone to infection.


Distilled water may not be completely sterile, but it is probably amoeba free which AFAICT is the main issue with neti pots.


No. Boiling is not an antibiotic. Also, we humans have been boiling water for safety for hundreds of years. If boil-proof microbes were coming to get you, they would have got you long ago.


Proteins and enzymes denaturize/degrade at temperatures between 40 to 80 degrees Celsius.
They are essential even to single cell organisms.
Humans can cope with a lot due to medicine but a fever (>42°C) can still kill us if it goes this high for long enough because of this heat damage.
Boiling for three minutes will always do the trick for amoebas and all other biological stuff you can encounter in daily life. There is no way to adapt to heat damage like this.

There are some proteins which are heat resistant but they are found in extremophiles that live e.g. on the bottom of the ocean, next to a volcano, and not in a kitchen.



Well, that really depends where your kitchen is, doesn’t it?




… but you’ll have to concede that forcing James Bond to use a neti pot in order to make him talk would look a bit silly.


Hang on…isn’t distilled water boiled and condensed already?

Distilled water is water that has been boiled into vapor and condensed back into liquid in a separate container. Impurities in the original water that do not boil below or at the boiling point of water remain in the original container. Thus, distilled water is one type of purified water .


Yes but, mine is artisanal. :wink:


Alternatively, just don’t use a neti pot, which is my solution. I have used a Neti pot in the past, but it’s not helpful enough to risk even a slight chance of brain eating anything…