Study Reveals Nasal Irrigation Risk: Amoeba Infections Claim Lives

Visual Representation for Nasal Rinse | Credits: iStock
Visual Representation for Nasal Rinse | Credits: iStock

United States: Deadly amoeba infections can be caused merely by nasal rinses, according to a latest study conducted. The study has highlighted that the amoeba infection can be brain-eating, leading towards death of the infected person. 

A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) details the instances of ten individuals within the past ten years contracting an infection from the amoeba Acanthamoeba subsequent to nasal irrigation, with three fatalities among them.

All ten subjects exhibited compromised immune systems, with seven enduring chronic sinusitis, and “numerous individuals utilized tap water for nasal irrigation,” as per the study released on Wednesday in the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

Amoebas are unicellular organisms renowned for inducing parasitic maladies in humans, encompassing dermal and ocular ailments as well as lethal cerebral infections.

Acanthamoeba is globally distributed, dwelling in soil and various aqueous environments, including lakes, streams, and tap water.

The amoeba is acknowledged as an opportunistic pathogen, targeting individuals with feeble or compromised immune systems, such as those grappling with diabetes, neoplasms, HIV, or a history of organ transplantation.

For persons with weakened immune systems, while nasal irrigation can confer health advantages like purging their sinuses and forestalling other forms of infection, the practice can also introduce pathogens, “especially if non-sterile water is employed,” caution researchers.

In an additional investigation, also published on Wednesday in the same journal, physicians from Karachi cite the instance of a 22-year-old Pakistani male who contracted the amoeba Naegleria fowleri through tap water nasal irrigation performed as part of a religious ceremony.

Cerebral infections stemming from amoebas can prove fatal, with scant survivors worldwide, and the affliction also lacks “any particular therapy,” alert researchers.

However, due to “vigorous” prompt medical intervention, the man survived.

Researchers advise against nasal irrigation with tap water due to the risk of amoeba-induced infections, including those caused by Acanthamoeba and Naegleria fowleri.

If tap water is utilized for irrigation, physicians advocate boiling it for at least one minute, or three minutes at altitudes surpassing 1,980 meters, and cooling it before use.

“All healthcare providers tending to immunocompromised individuals should edify their patients on Acanthamoeba infections, encompassing symptom recognition and safe nasal irrigation practices,” they appended.

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