Florida man dies from brain-eating infection after rinsing his nose with TAP WATER 


A man in Florida died from a brain-eating infection he contracted from washing his face with contaminated tap water. 

The unnamed Charlotte County resident, around 70 miles south of Tampa, was killed by the brain-eating amoeba on February 20, as revealed by the county’s health department.

The US only suffers a handful of deaths from the brain-eating amoeba each year. The amoeba usually live in warm water lakes and rivers – for which Florida has many – and it is unusual for a person to be infected by water in their home. It is the first such case in the Sunshine state.

The amoeba kills 97 percent of the people in infects. It lives in warm water and can only reach the brain via contaminated water going up the nose.

Florida is among the states that have suffered the largest burden of brain-eating amoeba cases, with 37 of around 160 recorded in the US all-time occurring in the Sunshine state.

The US has only suffered around 160 confirmed or suspected case of brain-eating amoeba since it first started tracking them in 1962

‘[Department of Health-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,’ it wrote in a statement.

Sinus rinsing is a practice where a person flows water into their nose through one nostril and out the other – in an attempt to clean mucus and other debris. 

Local officials advise residents to boil water for at least one minute before using it to wash their nose.

They also say not to allow water into your nose when showering, bathing, swimming in a blow-up pool, not to put your head underwater in the tub, to avoid letting children play with sprinklers while unsupervised and the avoid slip-and-slides.

But, inquiries as to how these amoeba are making it into tap water in the first place from DailyMail.com to the Charlotte County and Florida Departments of Health were not answered.

This is not the first recent case potentially tied to water in the home.

In 2020, a six-year-old boy in Lake Jackson, Texas died from Naegleria fowleri. Officials believe he was either infected while playing in a local splash pad or from a water hose at home. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recorded 160 cases of the amoeba since it first started tracking said data in 1962.

The CDC referred DailyMail.com to the Florida Department of Health when approached for information. 

Last July, Caleb Ziegelbauer, 13, was diagnosed with brain-eating amoeba in Port Charlotte, Florida – in the same county.

The teen has so far survived the infection, which would make him the fifth-ever American with a confirmed case of the brain-eating amoeba not to die. 

Officials have not yet confirmed his case, though. 

Dr Anjan Debnath, a parasitic disease expert at the University of California, San Diego, told DailyMail.com last year that the amoeba enters through the nose’s olfactory nerve.

This gives it a short and direct route into the brain. If water containing the amoeba enters the nose, it will likely lead to infection. 

Ingesting water through the mouth is ok because stomach acid is strong enough to kill the amoeba.

Once a person’s olfactory nerve is exposed, it can take around one to nine days to start experiencing symptoms. They will usually die within five days of symptoms first appearing.

‘It’s quite rapid, it’s very progressive. It literally eats the brain tissue,’ Debnath explained. 

Because of how rare infection is, doctors also often misdiagnose symptoms as meningitis – wasting valuable time that could be used treating the parasite. 

He describes the infection as taking part in two stages. The first is relatively minor, with the person experiencing a headache and other flu-like symptoms. 

This means that unless a doctor knows that a person has been swimming in untreated water they may not even suspect the amoeba.

Once symptoms reach the second stage, a person will start experiencing severe neurological issues like seizures. 

A doctor will then likely find out about the infection through a spinal fluid test.

America suffers around three cases of the amoeba each year. 

Caleb Ziegelbauer (pictured), 13, may become the fifth ever American to survive an infection from brain eating amoeba. He also contracted his case in Charlotte County

Caleb Ziegelbauer (pictured), 13, may become the fifth ever American to survive an infection from brain eating amoeba. He also contracted his case in Charlotte County

They will almost always occur over summer, when many families flock to local lakes and ponds for a daytime outing.

Dr Debnath still advises against swimming in untreated water over summer, especially in places like Florida and Texas where temperatures get exceptionally high.

Because the amoeba only resides in fresh water, swimming in the ocean is generally safe.

If families do choose to visit a freshwater beach, anyone entering the water should wear a nose clip to prevent water from entering their nose.

Dr Debnath also recommends against kicking up dirt or sand from the bottom of the lake as warmer areas deep down are where the microscopic beings usually lie.