A group of federal officials has stated in a release that an adult man in Florida died this past month due to contracting an extremely rare brain-eating amoeba in the wake of rinsing out their sinuses using a supply of unboiled tap water, cementing itself as the very first death of its kind within the United States for the year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained to local media outlets that the patient died back on February 20 due to the extremely rare disease which is caused by Naegleria fowleri, which is known to infect people when water holding the amoeba is allowed to infect the body through the nose.
“The adult patient reportedly performed nasal rinsing daily with unboiled tap water, which is thought to be the source of the infection,” explained a spokesperson from the CDC.
CDC officials did not publicly release the identity of the deceased.
Back in a news release from February 23rd, officials from the Florida Department of Health stepped forward to confirm that Charlotte County had recently documented a case of someone infected with Naegleria fowleri “possibly as a result of sinus rinse practices utilizing tap water.”
“DOH-Charlotte, as part of a multi-agency response, is continuing to investigate how this infection occurred and is working with the local public utilities to identify any potential links and make any necessary corrective actions,” explained a spokesperson for the department, Meranda Pitt.
Pitt put heavy emphasis on the fact that people cannot be infected by simply drinking tap water infected with the amoeba.
As the director of the marine laboratory at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Eric Milbrandt explained to local media outlets that the amoeba could only affect people via the nose, not simply by ingesting it.
“A proper, municipal treatment plant would have filtration, chlorination, and testing,” stated Milbrandt. “So your drinking water should be fine.”
Joe Pepe, the health officer for Charlotte County, explained to local media outlets that the patient was a male that lived across two different houses in the area but would not offer up any other additional information about the case.
“What we’re working on right now is a good investigation so that we can identify a point source, but we saw an opportunity to lean forward and being responsible and just kind of helping educate the community on this piece of it at the very least,” stated Pepe.
As explained by the CDC, the amoeba normally exists in warm freshwater like lakes, rivers, and hot springs around the world.