California woman killed by brain-eating amoeba


#1

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#2

That is horrific in so many ways. I can’t imagine the panic, the helplessness, and the anguish that she and her family must have felt and must still feel.

It’s with this in mind that I hate, hate, hate that I laughed at this URL: http://boingboing.net/2015/07/03/california-woman-killed-by-bra.html


#3

That’s the same amoeba that prompts all neti pots to come with a warning saying to boil water before use. Nasty bastard of an organism


#4

The amoeba supposedly lives in fresh water, whereas neti pots are to be used with salt water.

I wonder how the amoeba migrates through the skull, this doesn’t sound easy.

Unfortunately, I suspect the rareness of people contracting this is most of the reason why no treatment has been successfully devised.


#5

I’ve sometimes wondered about Brita filter pitchers that way too. Maybe they do filter something unwanted out of the water, but just how clean are they otherwise?


#6

Sure, Neti pots are supposed to be used with salt water, lots of people just use plain water, plain warm tap water.


#7

In the meantime, I have just found out about a thing called a ‘Neti pots’.

After some brief Google images I’m going to find out why this is a thing.


#8

Because decongestants don’t always work, nor do prescriptions, or antihistamines. Sometimes a saline/salt-water irrigation is all that works.

I’m “allergic” to most perfumes. I say “allergic” cuz its not a histamine reaction so therefore not an actual allergy, its technically “just” an irritation. (It feels like I’m being stabbed in my sinuses and give me migraines, “just” my ass!) When its really bad (like getting sprayed by a Febreeze room deoderizer automatic spayer) the only thing that helps is nasal irrigation.


#9

It could be that people are using straight tap water, although I would expect that to sting more than the recommended salt water solution.

The other possibility would be that even if you make a salt water solution from your tap water, then put it up your nose as soon as the salt has dissolved, that might not be enough time for the salt to kill off amoeba


#10

What you’re supposed to do is boil the water, making it sterile, adding salt whenever, but the point is to boil it -or- use distilled water widely available at drug stores.

People are cheap & lazy.


#11

Or are following incomplete instructions.

I tried a neti pot for my sinus issues, and I don’t recall anything about boiling the water. I ended up with water sloshing around inside my ears for the next couple weeks. While that’s not usually supposed to happen if you don’t open your eustachian tubes, that can still happen depending on the shape of your tubes.


#12

In general it isn’t, but there are ways through. Infections of Naegleria happen when amoebae end up at the very top of the nasal cavity, where the scent receptors are. Then the olfactory nerves provide a surprisingly short path they can follow into the brain.

I imagine that has a lot to do with it, but many infectious protozoans are particularly hard to deal with regardless. Bacteria and fungi have different features like cell walls or prokaryotic ribosomes that we lack, so drugs can target them without having so much effect on us. There are many possibilities for antibiotics, and the problem is mainly types that have developed specific resistance.

But most protozoa are basically like us, with similar cellular components and metabolism. So it’s very hard to damage them without also damaging everything around them. Treatments for things like Trypanosoma can amount to little more specific than poisoning everything and trusting the human tissue is in a better position to recover, which is going to be difficult for something delicate like the brain.

This is likewise why despite so much research, cancers are so very hard to deal with, the difference from normal cells being minimal.


#13

My nephew was nearly killed by fungal meningitis when he was 13. The biggest risk was in diagnosis. He had to get really sick before the case reached the top few doctors in the state, who took a good fresh look at his symptoms. From there on he was in hospital for about four months, and had another two years of intensive treatment from home.

A neighbour of mine who works in immunology told me that infections like this are much harder to treat because the infectious agent is much closer to us biologically, and it is harder to find things which will kill the infection but not the host.


#14

Right: they’re eukaryotes, and we’re eukaryotes. Also, the blood-brain barrier limits access of drugs even if they are available.


#15

Then I hope you used distilled water…


#16

My hearing is still stronger than most people’s, and my brain didn’t show any problems on the mri, so…


#17

Remember to let the water cool, tho.


#18

That particular part of the skull – the ethmoid bone – is not named after ‘sieve’ for nothing.


#19

LOL you’d think that would be common sense buy alas…


#20

We have a lot of natural and commercial geothermal pools in New Zealand so the “keep your head above water” advice is well known here.

These amoebae aren’t common. They tend to be found more in earth lined natural hot pools and their numbers go up if the water is stagnant, so commercial operators use lined pools and flush the water regularly which reduces the risk considerably. I think the last amoebic meningitis death here was around 10 - 15 years ago. So given our small population and the popularity of hot pools, it’s a pretty low risk.