Florida Residents Warned to Avoid Tap Water After Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection

In February, a man succumbed to a brain-eating amoeba, resulting in the warning of nearly a quarter million Floridians to not use tap water for washing their faces.[0] The Charlotte County branch of the Florida Department of Health has confirmed that the unnamed deceased patient had contracted Naegleria fowleri, a single-celled amoeba that is microscopic in size.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that infections from Naegleria fowleri are Between 2012 and 2021, the United States reported a total of 31 infections, with an average of zero to five cases per year.[1] Out of the cases, 28 were the result of recreational water exposure, 2 due to rinsing of the sinuses using contaminated tap water, and 1 due to using contaminated tap water on a backyard slip-n-slide.[2]

Charlotte County has been identified as having an outbreak of Naegleria fowleri, which is commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba,” by the Florida Department of Health. 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.[3]

The agency cautioned that only distilled or sterile water or tap water boiled for a minimum of one minute should be used when preparing sinus rinse solutions. It is also advised not to allow water to enter your nostrils when showering, taking a bath, swimming, or splashing around in an inflatable pool; to not submerge your head under the water in the bathtub; to not let children play with sprinklers when unsupervised; and to steer clear of slip-and-slides.[4]

Infections caused by Naegleria fowleri Between 2013 and 2022, a total of 29 cases were reported in the United States, with an average of 0-5 cases reported yearly.[5] Naegleria fowleri is an ameba that thrives in warm fresh water like lakes, rivers, and hot springs around the world.[5] In exceedingly rare cases, a Naegleria fowleri infection may occur if contaminated water from other sources (like an inadequately chlorinated swimming pool or contaminated tap water) is inhaled through the nose.[5] Individuals who irrigate, flush, or rinse their nasal passages should utilize distilled or boiled and cooled tap water.

DailyMail interviewed Dr Mobeen Rathore, an infectious disease expert from the University of Florida.[6]

0. “Florida residents warned about tap water after man dies from brain-eating amoeba” FOX 35 Orlando, 4 Mar. 2023, https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/florida-residents-warned-about-tap-water-after-man-dies-from-brain-eating-amoeba

1. “‘Brain-eating amoeba’ led to a death in Florida. What you can do to avoid infection” Miami Herald, 4 Mar. 2023, https://www.miamiherald.com/living/health-fitness/article272703438.html

2. “Case of “brain-eating amoeba” in Florida possibly linked to sinus rinse” Yahoo News, 2 Mar. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/case-brain-eating-amoeba-florida-194600133.html

3. “Florida resident dies after contracting brain-eating amoeba from tap water” USA TODAY, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2023/03/02/florida-resident-dies-brain-eating-infection-tap-water/11381329002

4. “Public told not to wash their face with tap water after brain-eating bug leaves one dead” Express, 4 Mar. 2023, https://www.express.co.uk/news/us/1742318/florida-brain-eating-amoeba-man-dies-tap-water-dxus

5. “Is Charlotte County's tap water safe following report of amoeba infection” FOX 4 News Fort Myers WFTX, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.fox4now.com/charlotte-county/is-charlotte-countys-tap-water-safe-following-report-of-amoeba-infection

6. “Florida residents warned about tap water after man dies from brain-eating amoeba” Yahoo Life, 4 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/florida-residents-warned-tap-water-024706340.html

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