"However, unfortunately it is possible for these organisms to get into tap water as well at times, and that's why I do always counsel my patients to use distilled water when rinsing". Then, about a year after the rash first emerged, the woman had a seizure.
The woman, who was 69 years old, died in February - roughly a month after doctors discovered the amoeba in her brain and about a year after she was initially infected.
"When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush", Cobbs told the Seattle Times. When the doctors looked at these samples of the tissue under the microscope, they could see the amoebas.
According to the CDC, most cases of Balamuthia mandrillaris aren't diagnosed until immediately before death or after death, so doctors don't have a lot of experience treating the amoeba and know little about how a person becomes infected.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rushed the anti-amoeba drug miltefosine to Seattle to try to save the woman's life, but she fell into a coma and died.
After using the prescribed neti pot for a month, she developed a rash near her nose, which was misdiagnosed as rosacea. It was sent to a lab at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where a scientists said he suspected an amoeba infection.
Most cases of brain-eating amoebas have been found in places like California, Arizona and Texas but Dr. Cobbs did say that over time, because of climate change, the amoeba could learn to survive in cooler areas like in Washington state.
Once in her body, the amoeba slowly went about its deadly work.
The woman's doctors say they weren't able to definitely link the infection to her neti pot, as the water supply to her home was not tested for the amoeba. The fatality rate is almost 100 percent.
You can't get the infection from drinking contaminated water or swimming in a properly chlorinated pool, and it hasn't been shown to spread through vapor from a hot shower or humidifier, according to the CDC.
The woman filled the neti pot with tap water, doctors said. A CT scan had revealed a 1.5-centimeter lesion and the 69-year-old had a history of cancer. "At this point, the family made a decision to withdraw support", the report continued.
"It's extremely important to use sterile saline or sterile water", Dr. Cobbs said.