A man in Florida has died from a brain-eating amoeba that he may have contracted after rinsing his sinuses with tap water, health officials said.

The Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County said in a Press release of February 23 which continues to investigate the cause of the Naegleria fowleri infection. The patient has not been publicly identified.

N.Fowleri It is a single-celled organism that can be found in soil and freshwater throughout the world. It likes heat and grows best at high temperatures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so infections are most often reported in the summer. Most come from swimming in warm lakes or rivers.

In general, these infections are very rare and only arise when contaminated water enters through the sinuses.

«YOU CANNOT get infected by drinking tap water,» the Health Department emphasized in its statement.

A case of amebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri parasites viewed using the direct fluorescent antibody staining technique.Collection Smith/Gado/Getty Images

The agency urged the public to use distilled or sterilized water when performing a nasal rinse, a practice that typically involves a neti pot.

«Tap water should be boiled for at least 1 minute and cooled before rinsing the sinuses,» the statement said.

Last year there were three confirmed cases of N. fowleri, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which occurred after exposure to fresh water in Iowa, Nebraska, and Arizona. Three cases were also reported each year in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

The Iowa case from last year was a Missouri resident who became infected after swimming in the Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County in June. Lake Iowa was temporarily closed after the patient was diagnosed.

In Nebraska, a Douglas County boy went swimming in the Elkhorn River in August and was subsequently hospitalized. The patient died within 10 days of becoming infected.

symptoms of a N. fowleri infection include headaches, fever, nausea, loss of balance, disorientation, seizures, and stiff neck. The disease progresses rapidly after symptoms begin, and patients usually die within 18 days or less.