DENVER (CBS4) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Jewish Health in Colorado both have issued a warning about nasal washes after two people have died from using tap water to do their sinus rinse.

Health experts say it’s safe to use nasal washes. It’s not about the rinse, it’s about the water. They warn that a mixture from a faucet could be fatal.

Reading, writing — and sinus rinses. They’re part of the curriculum for some students at Kunsberg School at National Jewish Health. Saltwater nasal washes can help asthma and allergy sufferers.

The saline rinses are highly recommended at National Jewish for children and adults.

“I do them at home if I have a bad cold,” said Marie Fornof, Certified Infection Preventionist.

But Fornof says not to use tap water. It’s because of a brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. It’s common in warm rivers and lakes, but if it travels up the nose to the brain it’s usually deadly.

RELATED LINK: Recommendation From National Jewish

“To give you perspective, over the past decade where the CDC has looked at it, the 32 cases they had 31 patients died,” Fornof said.

The brain infections caused by the amoeba are rare, but the two most recent deaths in Louisiana were tied to the use of tap water in “neti pot”s to flush sinuses.

“It’s not worth the risk. It does not cost that much more to boil your water or buy distilled water,” Fornof said.

Experts say only distilled, sterilized, previously boiled water, or properly filtered water.

A gallon of distilled water is usually under $2.

RELATED: Doctor Recommends Nasal Wash For Stopping A Cold?

MORE INFO: CDC Naegleria Frequently Asked Questions

Comments (119)
  1. Mary says:

    This shouldn’t let anyone’s summer swimming excursions be ruined. This amoeba has always been around. Just because you are hearing about it in the news doesn’t mean your chances of picking it up have increased. People should worry more about all the goobers and spit that you walk through on the sidewalks and parking lots every darn day!! Then you walk those shoes right into your home and let your infants crawl through. And then letting your dogs jump up on your furniture and bed!! Now that’s a disease just waiting to happen!!

  2. Mary says:

    This shouldn’t let anyone’s summer swimming excursions be ruined. This amoeba has always been around. Just because you are hearing about it in the news doesn’t mean your chances of picking it up have increased. People should worry more about all the goobers and spit that you walk through on the sidewalks and parking lots every darn day!! Then you walk those shoes right into your home and let your infants crawl through. Ant letting your dogs jump up on your furniture and bed!! Now that’s a disease just waiting to happen!!

  3. Pouteria says:

    Serious question..How come no one gets their brain eaten after swimming in Naegleria infested water and getting water ‘up the nose’

  4. Brian says:

    Holy s**t. I just started using that stuff on the recommendation of a doctor. It works, but no more tap water I guess. Good grief, seems like anything you do can kill ya.

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