Many people in New York who have frequent sinus infections or colds may have heard of or used a neti pot to flush out their sinuses. A neti pot is a small tea kettle-shaped device that pours water in one nostril and out the other, irrigating and rinsing a person's sinuses. According to the Huffington Post, two people have died after using neti pots and acquiring "brain-eating amoebas."
Although the amoeba, also known as Naegleria fowleri, is relatively rare, no one should be injured or harmed by properly using a product. When a dangerous product fails to warn you how to use it without causing you any harm, the manufacturer may be held responsible for any of the injuries that result. No one should be afraid that a household item will injure or kill them if there are no directions that list risks or dangers of improper use.
The Huffington Post reports that becoming infested by the amoeba is a relatively rare occurrence, but using tap water to irrigate the nostrils may still be quite dangerous. There are a number of unsafe bacteria that can be found in tap water, such as e-coli.
In light of the two reported deaths in Louisiana, the state epidemiologist has recommended that anyone using a neti pot only use sterilized, distilled or previously boiled water to make the irrigation solution. An ear, nose and throat specialist has also said that neti pots can be used safely, as long as the person using them knows how to take the proper safety precautions. It is unclear if neti pot manufacturers adequately warn consumers about the need to use distilled water.
Source: The Huffington Post, "'Brain-Eating Amoeba' Deaths May Be Linked To Tap Water Use In Neti Pots, Louisiana Officials Warn," Dec. 17, 2011