A U.S. man has died from a brain-eating amoeba — possibly after rinsing his nose with tap water, health officials say.
The Charlotte County, Florida, Department of Health confirmed the death at a news conference on Feb. 23, but did not provide details about the victim.
Naegleria fowleri The infection is believed to have been caused by sinus irrigation, but the department said it is still investigating.
Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled organism found in soil and freshwater throughout the world.
The amoeba enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain, where it destroys brain tissue and causes a devastating infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which is almost always fatal.
Most infections come from swimming in warm lakes or rivers in the summer because the organism loves heat and grows best in high temperatures.
Symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, loss of balance, disorientation, seizures, and a stiff neck.
The department said people cannot become infected by drinking tap water and advised people to rinse their sinuses with distilled or sterile water.
They add that tap water should be boiled for at least one minute and cooled before rinsing the sinuses.
Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, with just three confirmed cases in the U.S. last year, according to official data.
The cases occurred after exposure to fresh water in Iowa, Arizona and Nebraska.
Three each in 2019, 2020 and 2021.