Sorta kinda maybe. Depends on what kind of water you’re using. Turns out the popular but placebo home remedy for sinus issues might be a vector for catching slight cases of brain-munching amoeba infestation. But Louisiana’s taking no chances, after two people contracted primary amoebic meningoencephalitis after using a neti pot filled with tap water and died.
Jonathan Yoder, an epidemiologist with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the Louisiana cases are still being investigated to ascertain that the deaths did indeed result from exposure to treated tap water in neti pots, rather than exposure to untreated water in a pond or lake. If so, they are the first known incidences of the disease in the U.S. resulting from N. fowleri organisms surviving the water treatment process.
“Nearly all the cases have resulted from exposure to warm recreational water, such as ponds, rivers and lakes, and the kind of exposure where the water would be forced up the nose — for example, diving and water sports,” Yoder told Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience. The amoeba thrives in natural waterholes, especially those in the South, and several Americans die every year from swimming in these waterholes, or using untreated water from them. However, “in the last 15 years, I’m not aware of other cases [in the U.S.] associated with treated drinking water,” he said.
This would be terribly novel if it’s true. And for me, slightly fear-inducing, though I might just be easy to panic. Considering I’ve learned that wearing contact lenses as I do occasionally, and having your eyes come into contact with amoeba-infected water can lead to blindness within a day of exposure, I’d like to think my aversion is justified to a certain extent. The verity of this claim would also be a quite devastating piece of evidence against Louisiana’s water treatment processes — and anyone else’s whose water treatment processes match.
All of this aside, nasal lavage seems to me to be a placebo remedy at best, pseudoscience at worst. It has all the same utility as blowing your nose, only it’s a lot less convenient and a lot more uncomfortable.