These deaths occurred in 2011 when the victims used tap water to irrigate their sinuses with a Neti pot and the organism gained access via their sinuses to the olfactory mucosa, olfactory nerves and cribriform plate.
This almost always fatal brain infection, primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), is fortunately rare. Less than 1% who contract this protozoan infection in the brain recover. Grim odds.
Contracting this organism via a neti pot is an unusual route of infection. It more often gains entry via the nasal passages from swimming and diving in warm lakes, ponds and even heated swimming pools.
Diagnostic measures using real time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) are in the works. Currently the organism is definitively diagnosed through clinical history and identifying the organism visually in CSF or brain tissue.
There is not effective accepted treatment of this protozoa, though Amphotericin B and sulfadiazine have been used though without promising results.
|Naegleria fowleri transmission cycle|
|N. fowleri route of infection|