Florida Warns Against Using Tap Water After Death From Brain-Eating Amoeba

A Florida man, who has not been named, used tap water for a sinus rinse and died after contracting a brain-eating amoeba. Now, Florida officials are warning citizens about their use of tap water going forward as they take corrective action.

Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as “brain-eating amoeba, is likely to blame,  causing a brain infection called amebic meningoencephalitis. Like all infected individuals, the man died within five days of the symptoms first appearing.

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The initial symptoms of this disease are headache, vomiting, and nausea. Cognitive issues and a stiff neck also tend to appear. Even seizures can occur, bringing on severe swelling and, ultimately, rotting of the brain and spinal cord.

There are no known treatments for his disease.

Naegleria fowleri infection is sporadic; only three people in the US a year become infected. Infection cannot occur due to drinking wap water; it must enter through the nose, according to Florida Department of Health spokesman Jae Williams.

The Florida Department of Health has since recommended that only distilled or sterile water be used to clean out a clogged nose, which can be created by boiling and then cooling water.

“DOH-Charlotte, as part of a multi-agency response, is continuing to investigate how this infection occurred and is working with the local public utilities to identify any potential links and make any necessary corrective actions,”

The guidelines warned against several seemingly innocuous practices, like allowing water up the nose while swimming.


“DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.”

While most people avoid doing this intuitively, as it causes an unpleasant sensation, its potentially fatal consequences are jarring.

The DOH also recommends general cleanliness to prevent the brain-eating amoeba from contaminating water.

“Keep small hard plastic or blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.

Keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use. “

The Department also warned against simply jumping into pools or submerging one’s head in the water at all.

“DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools) – walk or lower yourself in.”

Moreover, the Department stressed that children should be strictly supervised when playing with or swimming in water.

DO NOT allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their nose. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water going up the nose.

After swimming in warm, natural bodies of water or having nasal exposure to water, the MDOH instructs citizens to immediately seek medical assistance if they come down with any of the following symptoms:






Stiff neck


Loss of balance



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The Department is working with healthcare facilities to monitor any indications of additional infections.

Despite the infected man’s sinus rinse with tap water, officials still aren’t 100% sure if that’s where the infection came from. Florida residents have been advised that drinking tap water is still safe but to avoid nasal contact.


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