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Yogis are big proponents of nasal irrigation (or, as it’s commonly known, using a neti pot) to keep the sinuses clear and to ward off colds and infections, but last week the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals issued a warning that improper use could prove deadly.
This warning comes after two people in Louisiana died after using contaminated water in their neti pots. They were infected with Naegleria fowleri—sometimes called a“brain-eating amoeba”—after using tap water instead of distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to irrigate their sinuses, reports Time Healthland.
The amoeba is rarely found in tap water, but all risks can be avoided by using sterile water instead—a particularly relevant warning in the middle of cold and flu season.
While tap water is safe to drink, it might not be safe for use in a neti pot, warns Louisiana State Epidemiologist Raoult Ratard. It’s also important to thoroughly rinse and dry the neti pot after each use.