The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals in the US has issued a weird warning to its citizens: if you have to irrigate your sinuses with water for some medical reason, don't use tap water. The reason: your brains may get eaten by the Naegleria fowleri.
That's the scientific name of the brain-eating amoeba, the gross thing in the picture above. It reminds me of the brain slug in Futurama, except this one kills you instead of controlling your brain.
It's also what happened to two people in that state. They were infected and died after irrigating their sinuses with tap water.
What's The Naegleria Fowleri?
The Naegleria fowleri is a micro-organism that lives in ponds, lakes, hot springs or anywhere where there is warm fresh water. It also lives in soil and unchlorinated swimming pools. When you drink it, there's no danger. But when you put it up your nose using a device like a neti pot, you are playing with death.
How Can You Get Infected?
If you get it through the nose, the brain-eating will attack your nervous system until you are dead. The chances of surviving its attack are slim: 98 per cent of attacks end in the morgue.
What Happens If You Get Infected?
It's pretty horrible. The symptoms start one to 14 days after the infection. Your taste and smell will be altered, you will have headaches, fever and nausea. Your neck will go rigid and you will start vomiting. You may also experience confusion and hallucinations, as well as seizures. Death occurs one to two weeks after exposure.
How Can You Avoid It?
Fortunately, you can prevent this. Just boil the water first and kill the bastard little bug.
In fact, generally speaking, try not to put anything up your nose and ears that haven't been sterilised first. It's a common point of entry not only for this bloody thing, but also to many virus and bacteria. [Yahoo]