While brain surgery was being conducted on a 69 year old American woman, doctors were horrified to come across something that really none of them could have ever expected to find: a slushy, dead mass of brain tissue.
Reported in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the situation started when a woman living in Seattle visited the doctors suffering from a difficult chronic sinus infection.
She was advised to make an attempt to flush out her sinuses and nasal cavity with some water. However, she used tap water that had been filtered not so effectively at all through a store-bought filter, as opposed to using some sterile water.
(Image credit: Anonews)
A year later, the woman started to suffer from some unusual and dangerous symptoms. For instance, she started to develop an odd, red rash around the outside of her nasal passage.
She proceeded to suffer from an intense seizure and an apparent loss of basic brain cognition, and then doctors decided unfortunately too late to investigate the possibility of a problem in her brain.
So a CT scan was performed on the woman, and they found that she had 0.6 inches, or 1.5 centimeters of lesion at the back of her skull. It looked just like a relatively common brain tumor, so they very quickly put her on the operating table and the doctors got to work.
“When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush,” a neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle said to the Seattle Times, Dr. Charles Cobbs.
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It turns out, her brain was being consumed by a brain eating amoeba known as Balamuthia mandrillari. “There were these amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells. We didn’t have any clue what was going on, but when we got the actual tissue we could see it was the amoeba,” Cobbs continued.
The dangerous, single celled organisms can be found naturally in freshwater as well as in the soil across the planet. Through flushing her sinuses with nothing but regular old Seattle tap water, she contracted a brain eating amoeba. That’s a little scary, I’ve drank Seattle tap water.
(Image credit: Anonews)
Due to the circulation of blood in the human nose and surrounding area, it’s technically possible for infections to spread from that nasal area to the brain.
They say such an occurrence is extremely rare, but nonetheless very possible. An elderly person that is persistently flushing unsterilized tap water up their nose raises the odds, but it’s pretty alarming that the amoeba can be present in tap water anyway.
Mainstream articles about this were quick to defend tap water, and they stated that only around 200 reported cases of this type of amoeba infection worldwide had been reported, citing the CC.
B. mandrillari is deadly however, despite how rare it may be, with almost 90 percent of infections resulting in death.
Sadly, this poor woman lost her life just a month after surgery. May she rest in peace, and may people never use tap water in her honor.