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. Nanabella says:

    The tap water used in the LA deaths was from a well on the home’s property – a well that was exposed to the SEPTIC FIELD on that property. Well water pumped out of the ground into your home doesn’t get treated to eliminate parasites like municipal water is treated to established standards. Instructions for NETI pots specifically say to use bottled distilled water – 79cents a gallon at Walmart. It isn’t the fault of the NETI rinse, it is the unfortunate fault of the person using the NETI pot who didn’t follow the specific instructions and use distilled water.

  2. So Odd says:

    Wow, this is pretty amazing that the tap water is doing this as this organism is found in rivers and lakes. SO why isn’t there mass deaths of people swimming in lakes and rivers that cough or inhale water while playing? Wierd

  3. jon says:

    people died from using it, but its safe. guess i’ll go back to watching american idol.

  4. JoeUSA says:

    I like how this article never once questions how brain-eating amoebas are getting past water treatment plants and ending up in tap water. Could it be we haven’t upgraded most water treatment plants in the USA since the 70’s?

  5. DEW says:

    The amount of water you might inhale inadvertently in the shower when washing your hair or splashing in the tub is trivial compared to the amount used in a typical sinus rinse. The rinse injects a comparatively very large quantity of water deep into the sinus cavity, whereas an inadvertent inhalation rarely goes much beyond your nostrils. Using distilled or boiled water is simply a harmless, common sense precaution.

    Not even *I* can turn this into some conspiracy from Big Pharma, and I *hate* Big Pharma :)

  6. Nate says:

    I am not a doctor, but I would think the distilled water idea is not really a good one. Once you open the jug of water, it is open to the air and can get contaminated.

    I’d say use boiled water, at least, that’s what I would do.


  7. Jthomp830 says:

    Article doesn’t say if the tap water was from a well or if it had been treated by a municipality. Would like to know!

  8. John says:

    It.s going to be all OK. Obamacare will see to it that we are all safe and in good health.

  9. ariel says:

    Which do you suppose has the greater probability; getting struck by lightning or dying from a brain-eating amoeba?

  10. MrTynes says:

    A better product is something called ClearGuard made by Nutrilite. tynesinternational,com

  11. DS says:

    It is recommended that people should stop bathing ASAP. It has been theorized that the little bug can slip in while your picking up the soap.

  12. Mitch Ruth says:

    I will absolutely guarantee there are more dangerous contaminants in your nasal passages right now if you don’t use a Neti Pot than if you do…so do we suggest that people don’t brush their teeth because of contaminants in the water? No, because that would be gross…now just think of all the nasty stuff up in your nose from filtrating the air you breathe each day. Oh but get a real Neti Pot, not those plastic things they sell at Wal Mart today… Bye, gonna go clean out my nose now….

  13. MikeinIowa says:

    Maybe our government could do a better job of purifying our water and remove dangerous flouride. Then this would’nt happen.

    No it s about responsiblity folks, you are responsible for what you do. Its not the governments job to make life idiot proof. These nasal rinses say right on the package to use purified water.

  14. Dennis says:

    According to the above, everyone needs to stay away from the lakes and rivers because the amoeba is “common in warm rivers and lakes”. There goes the summer.

    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 you let your dogs jump up on your furniture and bed!! Now that’s a disease just waiting to happen!!

  15. Mike Merryman says:

    Eat something with lots of horseradish and your nasal passages will drain like nobodies business!

  16. tcotney says:

    So the real headline should read, “Your tap water is not safe for nasal rinses.” I wonder what else is lurking?

  17. Ian says:

    LOL! there has to be a good jewish nose joke in this

  18. Jonathan Rice says:

    Couldn’t you technically get this from washing your face with tap water? Water pretty much always goes up your nose when you wash your face.

  19. me says:

    amoeba is not a virus, you imbeciles

  20. Dave says:

    Who the hell does nasal washes? Ive never even heard of such a practice. If you have a cold, you BLOW your nose, you don’t inject water into it. I swear I feel like I’ve been living in the twilight zone with all of the strange news that comes out.

    1. Jonathan Rice says:

      It’s actually very very helpful if you have a cold and/or sinus congestion. It clears everything out so you can breathe better. But I definitely won’t be doing it anymore after hearing about this. Not worth the risk.

  21. Ed says:

    I think this amoeba grows in the hot water tank maybe.

  22. Kyle's mom says:

    More than 31 people have died from this very common amoeba that is found in lakes, rivers, hot springs, and somehow got into the tap water these 2 individuals used in their neti-pots. Ther is no cure…but there is prevention and protection.

  23. DarthLaurel says:

    Seriously?? 31 deaths and HOW MANY of them are from using a NASAL rinse??
    With how many people a day using their marginal tap water for nasal rinses?
    Lord…..nothing quite like using scare tactics.
    Is There Actually A Warm River In Colorado?
    Is anyone home at CBS Denver??

    Say it with me….

  24. RAB says:

    Not to be too disgusting, but I (and I would guess millions of others) have flushed my nasal passage in the shower with municipal water many times. I would think many people would catch this if it were a problem.

  25. Max says:

    What? Is our tap water coming from China too?


    Read the directions on the package, people..,.

    Tap water is not a substitute for distilled water.

    Sorry for those that passed from this. Amoebas, flukes, bacterium. And why exactly do we trust other people with our health and welfare?

  27. Mike R. says:

    Everyone, drinking tap and snorting it up your nose are two different things as far as this amoeba is concerned. Drinking amoeba-infected water will not kill you because fowleri isn’t fatal going down that tube so to speak. It is only when traveling up the nose that you have something to worry about.

    1. Carlo says:

      Safe to put in the stomach, maybe. But heaven help you if you’re gulping a big glass of water and some of it happens to permeate into the wrong pipeway or you start laughing or coughing and “out the nose it goes” as we say. To me, that oesn’t sound all that safe for drinking.

      Or am I wrong?

  28. John in VA says:

    Well, that’s 31 more people than die from secondhand smoke…

  29. Emery says:

    More of the stupid government’s war on health. It’s the water – not the nasal wash. The CDC ought to be warning that public water is infected and not safe to drink. Mean while they poison everyone with Fluoride. Vote for Ron Paul an close this stupid agency too.

    1. Finbar says:

      General Ripper! Nice to hear from you again.

      1. MrSpkr says:

        ROFLMAO! Great comment, Finbar.

        On a side note, Emery’s the first of the anti-flouridation conspiracists that I’ve seen rooting for Ron Paul this year . . . but I’m not particularly surprised that a conspiracy theorist is a PaulBot.

  30. Jubal says:

    And the first thing that everyone else sees in your post is “child.’

  31. Jubal says:

    Sorry. Most of the management of the CDC, as well as Senior ‘researchers,” if they were given an enema after death, would be buried in matchboxes. Ever heard of “Giardia?” Nasty little bug. Endemic in many municipal water systems. Gives the kids the classical diarrhea symptoms, and treatment of choice is Flagyl, at $1.00+ per pill with insurance. Surely many of the readers have had kids experience this. Chlorination doesn’t get rid of it. Replacing the infected pipes does. Replacing the bureaucrats that allow it to happen works even better.

  32. SHAWN says:


    1. Jubal says:

      Funny, first thing that comes to mind reading your post is “Idiot.”

      1. Emery says:

        Funny the first thing that came to my mind after reading your post was “idiot.”

  33. Simmering says:

    What is missing in this story and the CDC report is that the water used in the LOUISIANA incident was WELL WATER, not the municiple treated water. Kind of an important fact.

  34. Scott says:

    Normally, big cities like LA, San Diego, Albuquerque, Denver, Arizona and the like, don’t have to worry about amoebas in tap water b/c those cities chlorinate the water. Warmer places like the deep south and Bible belt area’s of the country as well as smaller towns DO have to watch out for t his kind of thing.

    The problem with the news story above is that it is just a news story. The writer doesn’t go into much detail about the problem except that it is a problem and leave the reader out in the cold to much needed information.

    Bad writer…BAD.

    1. Scott says:

      Correction: Phoenix, not Arizona…sorry.

  35. ariel says:

    There should BE any LIVE amoebas in your tap water in the U.S.
    THAT’S the real story here!

  36. Gekko says:

    31 people died ?? That sounds like a slow Friday night on the south side of Chicago…….Why doesn’t the CDC look at the lifestyle causes of something like AIDS and put out some guidelines on that ????

    1. Joseph Romanowski says:

      What an idiot. The CDC does have guidelines for the HIV virus. Ever hear of the safe sex notion? Or are you a GOP bagger zombie and are against any kind of birth control? Don’t spill the seed.

  37. jeffus says:

    C’mon people. Is all of Denver as stupid as these comments suggest? Most cases of this amoeba come from water skiers who hit the water so hard that it jams (warm) lake water up into their sinuses, or from people who ignore every precautionary statement and use tap water for sinus washes. I wonder if Colorado lakes even get warm enough to support N. fowleri. It’s usually more of a problem in Texas/Florida.

    Your nose is built to defend itself with easy drainage and rapid snot deployment. Your sinuses are harder to drain and a stray amoeba has a better chance of hanging on up in there.

    Of course tap water is treated and of course it is safe for your kids to “swim” in the tub. Just don’t let them routinely suck water up their nose so hard that it’s rattling around in their sinuses. Trust me, chlorinated water up in there is unpleasant and I don’t think it’s a habit they’ll pick up.

    You don’t want your tap water treated to kill every last damn thing that might grow because you’ll be drinking something that tastes and smells like pool water and you’ll be maintaining a household chlorination system to boot because the city can’t keep the chlorine that high.

    Just follow directions, and if you must water ski, consider wearing nose plugs and breathe through your mouth before you smack into the water. Don’t water ski in your well.

    1. prairie digger says:

      One of the recent (couple years ago) cases was a teen boy on a family vacation, swimming in a small pond in Ariz… In a couple days was dead. Apparently takes no force, but just maybe inhaling back into the nasal passages, to find it’s way into the sinuses. Mother Nature is not kind, is she?! Sheeesh.

    2. vinko says:

      the deaths didn’t occur in Colorado and Colorado doesnt have lakes

      1. TheRealKingMax says:

        No lakes?


    3. TheRealKingMax says:


      I LOVE this sentence from your comment:

      “Your nose is built to defend itself with easy drainage and rapid snot deployment”.

      I can just see this in tomorrow’s news:

      The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in response to a terrorist threat against Mount Rushmore, has announced the formation of a new security team, Rapid Snot Deployment.

      Secretary Napalitano discussed the terrorist’s plan to blow the noses off the famous granite heads. “With the RSD, if they even attempt to carry out their evil plan, we’ll blow those little boogers all to hell, and wipe them on the trees below.”


  38. gordonwagner says:

    A Center for “National Jewish Health “? What’s up with that?

    1. Sketch says:

      They eat a Kosher diet?

    2. Archie Bunker says:

      I’m guessing you’re a Democrat.

    3. J.D. says:

      Wow, there are SO many things wrong with your comment I can only guess you’re either joking or one of the dumbest people in America.

    4. rickyrico says:

      Amoeba are not kosher. They don’t chew the cud or have cloven hooves. NJH wants the word out.

  39. mmercier says:

    if brain eating amoeba are eliminated… who would be left to vote for the democrats…?

    1. Nick says:

      Everyone who doesn’t watch Fox News?

  40. Me says:

    Here they go again…


    I think the CDC’s misguided advice has killed more people than N. Fowleri.

  42. bryan says:

    I could only imagine the frivolous lawsuits that would be filed if the word “previously” wasn’t placed before “boiled water”. LOL

    1. Finbar says:

      NOW you tell me!

  43. starbro says:

    Nasal wash is the best! I do it every day and I recommend it to anyone who is stuffed up.

    How many people nasal wash daily and there are 2 cases of this amoeba? They say 31 out of 32 people dies from the amoeba OVER A DECADE, so three people die a year from this. Not exactly a pandemic.

    1. Mitch Ruth says:

      don’t forget that Jala Neti has been practiced for thousands of years, in India yet, if you are using municipally treated water you will be fine…and you will be without a lot of contaminants that lodge in your nasal passages from the natural course of the day…

  44. Timuchin says:

    Don’t pump swamp water straight into your house water system! Not even for “just showers & toilets.” And don’t try to make people paranoid about their community drinking water system!
    The CDC makes money off of fear.

    1. Rick says:

      Very true… CDC and fear etc…

      although, we showered and brushed with lake water; it was a bit better than swamp water LOL and my family is all still doing well.

      If we had PURE WATER delivered to every house, the cost of water would be astronomical… 32 deaths over how many years?? What, me worry – NAH!

  45. Rick says:

    What are the Signs & Symptoms? I think MY brain might be being eaten!!

    1. obozosux says:

      If you’re a liberal you can be sure of it!

      1. Sketch says:

        What if we’re socially liberal and fiscally conservative? Like a rational independent thinker. Must be brain bugs, I mean brain washing.

      2. Billy M says:

        If you are socially liberal, it means the bug entered through your rectum.

      3. Mike says:

        @ Billy M


      4. Sally says:

        Socially liberal is the only way to be. Because it means. I leave you alone you leave me alone. Some people have trouble with this, but I could never understand why. It seems like a very Jesus-y idea after all.

      5. Bob says:

        You would be shocked to know that there is a name for that, it’s called a Libertarian and it’s just pure common sense.

      6. MoPatriot says:

        Spot on, Bob. Cheers!

    2. C. Everett Koop says:

      I think Obama may have it.

  46. Jessica says:

    Exactly! Why is our water not treated enough so it will never contain this horrible brain eating bug! My kids get water up their nose all the time. This is very scary!

    1. Mannie says:

      The water should be so treated. Surface water is typically floculated, sand filtered, and chlorinated. Groundwater (well water) should be completely free of the organism. The problem is, the condition is so rare, it’s hard to study. How did the bugs get into the drinking water, if in fact it came from the drinking water system. Was there a pipe break that introduced contamination? Did the organism come from somewhere else?

      34 cases in 10 years, most of which came from swimming holes, doesn’t give us enough to work with. But they’ve gotta blame it on something.

  47. George L. C. Smith says:

    Stomach acid kills a lot of pests. Your nasal passages are not so protected.

  48. Lucy Pratt says:

    Jeez!!! More information, please!!! I’ve gotten tap water in my nose many times in the shower – bending down and shaving my legs, putting my head back to shampoo my hair, etc.! My grandbabies “swim” in the bathtub and often get bath water in their noses. And, I use a well. How does one know if tap water might contain this amoeba???

    1. FattyMatty says:

      Could be the neti pots were contaminated themselves. The containers clearly state to use distilled or boiled water.

      1. Skip_G says:

        Although the neti pot instructions do clearly state to use distilled or boiled water, the two who died in Louisiana DID NOT follow those directions. They used water from the sink, without boiling it. So it doesn’t look like that indicates that the neti pot (which is sold completely dry) was somehow “contaminated” with an amoeba that actually lives in water.

    2. Sally says:

      Exactly… People who say this fear is unfounded arent thinking about every way we use water.

    3. Kyle's mom says:

      Lucy, visit for more info!

      1. Grateful reader says:

        Thank you for this resource and for turning a tragedy into help for others.

  49. beazr says:

    You mean the poison that is sodium fluoride? Which might also include traces of Uranium and Arsenic amongst other things? Are we all still wondering why there is an explosion in cancer rates in fluoridated countries? Canada & USA??? How can we stop it? Revolt! Revolution! Let he heads roll!!!

    1. Holy Smokes says:

      Uranium is good for you, Ann Coulter said so.

  50. Scott Groves says:

    LOL! But it’s okay to drink this toxic poison that our govt calls tap water.

      1. closecall says:

        Government does not care about us.


        They take tour ax money illegally.

    1. You are a DirtyLittle Secret says:

      What is your deal?

      1. Nick says:

        He’s probably getting advertisement revenue per click.

    2. armedinTN says:

      It has to do with the stomach acid in your stomach. It will kill any living organism. However, the ameobas can travel through the sinuses and into the bloodstream without being exposed to any acid.

      1. FattyMatty says:

        Totally untrue AT. If that were the case, you’d never have to worry about food spoiling or drinking contaminated water. When food spoils, it is caused by microorgnisms that could be bacteria or parasites. Stomach acid does NOT kill all living organisms. The pH in stomach acid is 1.5-3.0. Several microorganisms can and do survive exposure to stomach acid and within minutes cause food poisoning. Check your facts, please.

      2. Michael says:

        doesn’t kill every living organism. viruses can live in one’s stomach and GI track..ever heard of rotavirus?

      3. AhhhChooo says:

        Just another story to take attention away from the coup and cover up. Welcome to the military police state, no democracy, no president, no Constitution, and freedom of press is an illusion.

        The next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out.

      4. Billy M says:

        Hey FattyMatty,
        pH below 7 us basic not acidic, Yet the primary constituent to stomach bile is HCL. Something amiss with your story.

      5. Tricia says:

        @Billy M: PH below 7.0 is indeed acidic. Not that it is of great relevence to this story, but just wanted to correct.
        7 is neutral. Above is basic, below is acidic

      6. WhiteSquare says:

        Fatty, the virus in question with these nasal rinses is Naegleria Fowleri. It cannot survive in the stomach. The only way it invades the human body is through the sinuses and then into the brain. Drinking water with NF would not give you the bug. Rinsing your sinuses with water infected with NF will.

        You are correct, however, that many organisms survive stomach acid. The specific organism in question, however, does not survive the acid.

      7. Carlo says:

        Safe to put in the stomach, maybe. But heaven help you if you’re gulping a big glass of water and some of it happens to permeate into the wrong pipeway or you start laughing or coughing and “out the nose it goes” as we say. To me, that doesn’t sound all that safe for drinking.

        Or am I wrong?

      8. Thom says:

        Would have been helpful had the article explained that point. Thanks.

      9. FugginMorons says:

        “the virus in question with these nasal rinses is Naegleria Fowleri.”

        It’s not a virus, it’s an amoeba.

      10. Mary says: the amoeba doesn’t even travel into the bloodstream….it takes a direct path to the brain tissue…you must do your research before commenting

    3. Sketch says:

      Choo. Stop spamming that ridiculous conspiracy theory on every drudge post I visit. As I’ve stated, I’m a portrait artist and those photos are NOT the same people.

      1. Had it with the GP says:

        achoo is an idiot – pH less than 7 is acidic. A 30 second search will confirm what the rest of the world knows. Jeeze, thought the internet was supposed to make us smarter…

      2. Jim Dea says:


        Excellent Point, that is why I say move into the country, drill a well and get your water from 200 feet under the ground like I do. I have used a Neti-pot filled with my tap (spring) water and I am still alive, I think.

    4. LukeJohn says:

      Because the government is constantly finding ways to interfere in our daily lives, tell us what we can and cannot do. That’s why.

    5. BamaOK says:

      CDC…I question their motives. Fear? Possibly….but follow the money. A nasal rinse is effective, and INEXPENSIVE. Sinus drugs and spays, are not. I smell (clear passages) some rats and some greedy “BIG” pharmacy types behind this. And what about showering in this tainted water and getting water up your nose, in your ears, etc.? I’m not falling for this story!

      1. Archie Bunker says:

        destilled water only costs a $1 or $2 and isn’t made by big pharma

      2. Jim Dea says:

        I like your comment, but I question your name. It is ALL about money and it would be very easy for the huge pharmaceutical companies to bribe our CDC, it happens all the time, they even bribe the FDA and if they come across an honest person, that person is removed and their replacement is bought. We live in an age where NOTHING is what is seems and EVERYTHING is a lie. Even Obama and his eligibility has been covered up with lies. His latest “long form BC is a FAKE!

      3. Hate America? Vote Democrat! says:

        BamaOK? Out of office, maybe…. unless you’re talking about Al’bama.

        Roll Crimson Tide!

        As for your wacko conspiracy phobia:

        We lose about 2 – 3 people a year in Florida because they swim underwater in warm lake, and this amoeba enters the SINUSES and into the brain. Hard to do in the “shower” unless you’re using the shower for a nasal doosh, doosh!

        As for the “greedy BIG pharmacy” types – JUST BOIL THE TAP WATER, FOLKS!

        Damn public schools educations….

    6. Mike says:

      Except these cases are from WELL WATER, not municipal treated water sources.

      Well done in misinterpreting the facts to support you faith, err conspiracy theory, I mean perfectly rational fear. Right.

      1. Sally says:

        I have heard the well water argument before. But I never see it in the article. In fact what I saw in the report about this issue two months ago was that it was the Municipal water supply.

        But heck.. you go ahead and say its well water with no real proof. ;)

    7. Michele says:

      You are supposed to microwave or boil the water first! Talk about not reporting the truth. Ridiculous. I use this all the time. Just because 2 people can’t read the directions does not make it an issue for all of us that do read directions!!! Give me a break! The news sucks.

    8. Tadd Worthingwellstone says:

      But the fluoride, arsenic and dozens of other poisonous chemicals build strong bones and body … wait … that was the Wonder Bread commercial. I guess I just haven’t had enough of the chemicals and biological toxins to think right.

    9. Joseph Romanowski says:

      Then don’t drink it. I doubt anyone is holding a gun to your head.

    10. Packers47 says:

      Hey with a little more fraccing you wont need no netty pot trust me. Google it people this government is crooked on the right and left

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