SEATTLE, Wash. “When a 69-year-old Seattle woman had a seizure earlier this year, doctors at the Swedish Medical Center believed she might have a brain tumor. However, during the operation, they discovered that there was something much more unusual, according to KCPQ.
Dr. Charles Cobbs said when he was driving it was just dead brain tissue.
Dr. Cobbs said she was probably infected by Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba that slowly kills brain cells over time.
The Swedish hospital did not identify the patient who died one month after being diagnosed.
“There were these amoebas everywhere just eating brain cells,” says Cobbs Seattle Times. “We had no idea what happened but when we got the tissue we saw it was amoeba.”
The team at the Swedish Medical Center believes that the woman used a device called a net boiler to irrigate her sinuses, which probably introduced amoeba in her system.
“It is extremely important to use sterile saline or sterile water,” says Dr. Cobbs. “I think she used (tap) water that had gone through a water filter and had done it about a year earlier.”
Amoeba is a single organ that can cause fatal illness in humans and lives in hot soils and water.
“This is extremely rare. This amoeba was not even known 20 years ago hardly. There have been around 200 cases worldwide,” says Cobbs.
Clinical infectious disease states that 90% of patients who talked to Balamuthia have died. Although infected, they are rare, Cobbs says that people should always follow instructions and take precautions when using medical devices.
“If you are using a neti pot, you should, for example, be very aware that it must be absolutely sterile water or sterile saline,” says Dr. Cobbs.
Most cases of the brain -Eating amoebas have been found in places like California, Arizona and Texas but Dr. Cobbs said that over time, due to climate change, amoeba could learn to survive in cooler areas like Washington.