In central Texas, allergies and colds are more common this time of year and neti pots have become increasingly popular for treating sinus-related symptoms. However, two recent deaths in Louisiana due to primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) have led some to call the neti pot’s safety into question.
The organism in question, Naegleria fowleri is usually present in stagnant freshwater lakes or temporary pools but can also be found in tap water. The amoeba attaches itself to the olfactory nerve following insufflation and quickly multiplies. Though exceptionally rare, the infection is fatal in 97 percent of cases.
The amoeba that killed the two individuals in Louisiana came from tap water and Louisiana health officials are now evaluating the safety of neti pots. In statements regarding the deaths, authorities claimed that using distilled or boiled, cooled water should be sufficient to prevent infection. They also advised that after use, the neti pot should be washed and air-dried to prevent bacteria growth.
Though no Texans have died from using a neti pot, the amoeba responsible has been found in some Texas water sources. Drinking the amoeba is harmless but if you do plan to use a neti pot we recommend boiling the water for 20 minutes before use. Make sure the water has cooled down before use to avoid burns.