12.23.11

Get eaten by amoebas and die

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Phlogiston at 2:12 pm by George Smith

Whadda ya do if you’re corporate America and a gruesome news story has just run on people in the south who died from amoebas eating their brains, protozoa shot into their sinuses during use of “neti pots”?

Well, because you have no heart and are only worried about the bottom line, you immediately exploit. Take out an Internet ad campaign, like the one above, from which I snagged the screen snap.

Reads one news story from Louisiana:

Only distilled or sterile water should be used when irrigating the sinuses, the Missouri health department said today in an alert following the deaths of two people in Louisiana.

The deaths were caused by an organism called Naegleria fowleri that can lead to a brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. Both people had used tap water to flush water through their noses with a device known as a neti pot.

The organism travels to the brain through the nose, destroying tissue as it goes. It can not cause an infection by drinking water through the mouth …

The infections can occur when people swim in fresh water lakes and rivers and inhale water up their noses. In rare cases the cause has been linked to untreated swimming pools or tap water … There are about three cases of Naegleria fowleri infections a year in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tap water is sanitized by chlorination but not rendered sterile. That is,
most microbes — but not all, are killed. And in the case of Naegleria, if a couple of them are present in the tap — in areas where the water is taken from sources where they are found — shotgunning them into the sinus with a “neti pot” is … not so good.

Way way back in the day, when trying to pick Ph.D. research, I was interested in invasive microorganisms because of their potential production of proteolytic enzymes, catalysts which degrade connective tissue.

Because of this I occasionally browsed papers on Naegleria infections. They were always fatal. And in the years since not much progress has been made on Naegleria infection for two reasons: Its relative rarity and the fact it presents so late the patient is beyond hope and no treatments can be tested for efficacy.

As for use of “neti pots”? It’s a vile habit, old wive’s tale preventive scam medicine for stupid people in modern America.

I had allergies as a child. Many kids do and it’s no big deal.

However, with my parents all slight illnesses or infirmities were to be vigorously attacked, no matter the pain and cost involved.

So every other Saturday morning in the spring and summer for a couple years I was taken to an eye, ear, nose and throat man in the county seat for mechanical neti-potting treatments.

There I’d be strapped into a chair, my head restrained and my body tilted back. A nozzle would be stuck up my nose and a machine would begin pumping saline water through my sinuses for a few minutes.

Sh-pummm, sh-pummmm, sh-pummmm went the machine.

“Cough, ackkkk, gurgle-gurgle-gurgle!” went me.

When I could snatch a breath, I’d scream. It was kind of like being water-boarded, I suppose.

Now isn’t that a nice story?

5 Comments

  1. Chuck said,

    December 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Humans have a superiority complex, I think.

    Flush your colon, flush your sinuses, scrub every inch really hard until it bleeds.

    We’re probably healthier being dirty and sleeping with animals and getting the occasional dose of intestinal worms. Not to mention having maggots eat necrotic flesh and leeches suck surgical sutures.

    How humiliating!

    Happy Festivus, George!

  2. George Smith said,

    December 24, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Back at you, Chuck!

  3. Christoph Hechl said,

    December 27, 2011 at 1:48 am

    A friend of mine has a selfmade sign next to his front door reading (translated):
    This house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.

    I didn’t read up on this, but wasn’t there evidence several years ago, that auto-immune diseases and allergies where more likely to occur in households with very high levels of hygiene?

  4. George Smith said,

    December 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

    There’s evidence that normal exposure to the environment keeps the immune system on its toes through life. However, that’s a bit of apples and oranges in this piece.

    The neti pot thing, or washing of sinuses, is just a stupid habit and there’s no evidence to suggest it does anything long-term to improve health. It certainly didn’t do anything for me after being strapped in a chair many many times.

    However, in the cases that drove this story, it exposed victims to a real hazard. It put microorganisms, the Naegleria amoeba, in the absolute best place for it to cause a fatal infection. In these cases, fortunately very rare, no level of immunity or good health would have saved them once the organism had migrated into the nasal tissue and from there on into the brain..

  5. Christoph Hechl said,

    December 27, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Well that was pretty much the point i wanted to make:
    The countermeasure against a threat that doesn’t actually exist makes things worse than they could ever be.
    Having done nothing at all would have been easier, safer and more logical.
    In this sense you might say it is a story that is very typical for this blog, isn’t it ;-) .