After two people in Louisiana died from brain-eating amoebas they contracted while using neti pots — a home remedy for colds — doctors aren't advising patients to shoot tap water through their nostrils to relieve their ailment.
Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals who has studied both cases, advises:
"Drinking water is good to drink, very safe to drink, but not to push up your nose."
After studying both deaths linked to the microbe, Ratard says there is no doubt using tap water in a neti pot is responsible, explaining:
"The first one could have been a fluke, but now that we have a second one, the only explanation is the use of the neti pot."
While we would immediately switch to nasal spray or Vicks to clear our stuffy nose, Louisiana has issued a warning for those who just can't give up their neti pots:
"If using a neti pot or other nasal irrigation device, use distilled or filtered water. Keeping the device clean is crucial, too, Ratard says. A neti pot, which looks like a small genie lamp, can be safely washed in a dishwasher, but squeeze bottles and other devices need to be scrubbed. All need to dry between uses."
And we would follow those instructions very carefully! After all, what good is a cold remedy if it eats your brain?