Nearly a quarter of a million Floridians are being warned not to wash their faces with tap water after a man died of a brain-eating amoeba in February.
The advice, which applies to Charlotte County’s nearly 200,000 residents, comes after a county resident died on February 20.
Officials believe the anonymous man contracted the brain-eating infection by washing his face and flushing his sinuses with infected tap water.
Infections by Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic unicellular amoeba, are very rare. The infection is known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) and occurs when contaminated water gets up your nose.
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There are no known effective treatments for the disease, and about 97% of those who contract it die. Only four patients survived the infection in the US from 1962 to 2021.
The CDC told FOX 4 Fort Myers that this is the first case of a person in Florida being infected through tap water. It is also the first case in the US to happen during a winter month.
dr Mobeen Rathore, a disease expert at the University of Florida, advised all Charlotte County residents not to expose their noses to tap water during this time.
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“Unless it gets deleted [by authorities] You should avoid getting water up your nose, at least for now,” said Dr. Rathore of the Daily Mail. “Avoid getting your nose in the shower.”
If it is unavoidable, residents are instructed to boil the water first. Officials stressed that the infection could not come from drinking tap water.
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“Infection with Naegleria fowleri is EXTREMELY RARE and can only happen when water contaminated with amoebas enters the body through the nose,” the Florida Department of Health tweeted on Friday. “You CANNOT get infected by drinking tap water.”
Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.