We are so proud of our drinking water. It is among the best-tasting in the country and we might have taken top honors nationwide if we weren’t such good stewards of our well systems.
And speaking of wells, we are tapping into that same incredible source with TheWells@Vineyard! But when it comes to inhaling our water, to borrow a well-worn warning, just say no!
Rare but deadly brain-eating amoeba – Balamuthia mandrillaris and Naegleria fowleri – can make their way into your brain when you inhale tap water. And when a 69-year-old woman died in Seattle after using a neti pot, the CDC again sounded a warning. Again, primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is rare, with only 133 people infected between 1962 and 2014. But only three people survived it. And that is enough, given the growing popularity of nasal rinsing, to make us take notice.
Fortunately, it is simple to protect yourself from these nearly imperceptible parasites. We want to stress, too, that you cannot get this by drinking water. It is only dangerous when inhaled through the nose.
Here are options that will decrease your chances of becoming infected. And you can use more than one method if desired:
• Boil the water for one minute – three minutes if you are in elevations over 6,500 feet – and let it cool. If you want to, run the water through an NSF 53 and NSF 58 filter. Filters labeled “absolute pore size of one micron or smaller” are also effective.
• Buy a gallon of distilled or sterile water. Make sure it is labeled as such and protect it from becoming contaminated by keeping it sealed.
• When you are finished with your nasal rinsing, recommends the FDA, wash the rinsing device with distilled, sterile or boiled and cooled water and wipe it dry with paper towels.
• See a doctor if you experience headaches, a fever, nausea or vomiting. In its later stage, you may have a stiff neck, confusion, seizures and hallucinations. Death usually follows within five days of feeling symptoms, according to the CDC.