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Category Press Release
Publish Date 4/18/2023
Author Paul Cochrane
Title Tap Water Sinus Rinse the Possible Cause of Fatal Brain Infection in Florida
Introduction EMSL Analytical provides PCR testing services for Naegleria fowleri to provide for the rapid identification of this waterborne amoeba from environmental samples.

Orlando, Florida, April 18, 2023

Earlier this year, the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County (DOH-Charlotte) confirmed a case of a person infected with Naegleria fowleri, a single-celled amoeba. Tragically, the individual died from a brain infection caused by the amoeba known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). DOH-Charlotte reports the infection was possibly the result of the person performing a sinus rinse utilizing tap water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people can become infected with Naegleria fowleri if water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose. This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes, ponds, rivers and canals. The amoeba travels up the nose to the brain where it causes PAM which destroys brain tissue and has a fatality rate of over 97%.

DOH-Charlotte has advised residents to follow the following instructions:

  • When making sinus rinse solutions, use only distilled or sterile water. Tap water should be boiled for at least 1 minute and cooled before sinus rinsing. 
  • 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.
  • Do not jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools) – walk or lower yourself in.
  • 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. 
  • 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.  


“While this type of infection is rare, it can happen and people should be aware of steps they can take to mitigate exposure risks,” said Jason Dobranic, Ph.D., Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “To help prevent these infections, or to identify the source of the amoeba if one has already occurred, EMSL Analytical offers rapid environmental testing services for Naegleria fowleri utilizing highly sensitive PCR techniques.”

Several years ago, EMSL sponsored an educational video about Naegleria fowleri that can still be seen at: https://youtu.be/vLT82VMnNgQ 

To learn more about testing for Naegleria fowleri or other environmental, health and safety services, please contact EMSL Analytical at www.EMSL.com, call (800)220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical is one of the leading testing laboratories with locations throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP <797>, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOCs, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA LAP, LLC. (AIHA EMLAP, AIHA IHLAP, AIHA ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at www.EMSL.com for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.

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