The family of 41-year-old Scott Schmitz has exclusively confirmed to WINK News that he died from a brain-eating amoeba. Schmitz got infected with the brain-eating amoeba after using water from his faucet in a netty pot.
The Charlotte County Health Department confirmed a death resulting from a brain-eating amoeba in February, without providing more details.
The Schmitz family said Scott suddenly got sick after using a sinus-flushing method to treat his allergies.
The death made many people in Englewood uneasy and has them questioning the safety of their own water too.
The case is seen so rarely that experts can’t put into words how incredibly unusual the case is.
“I have not heard of that. If you look at the records from CDC, there’s almost no cases,” Dr. Barry Rosen from FGCU, said.
Almost no cases of a brain-eating amoeba surviving passing through a water treatment facility into a home’s tap water before infecting and then killing the host.
“How did it survive chlorination,” Dr. Rosen rhetorically asked. “And the question is, was that tap connected to some kind of chlorination system?”
The family of Scott Schmitz told WINK News that the Florida Department of Health confirmed his cause of death. They said he used a netty pot to rinse his sinuses and got sick not long after.
“Thinking about how many people use tap water every day, day in and day out. It’s just extremely phenomenally rare,” Dr. Rosen said.
But the story becomes more unnerving when you consider that the Florida Department of Health found the brain-eating amoeba in one isolated location in their Englewood home. The amoeba was only found in the kitchen sink faucet.
“You have to look also at their source of water and where did that contamination really come from,” Dr. Rosen asked.
Dr. Rosen poses a devastating question with a fatal answer.
WINK News asked Dr. Rosen how long can a deadly brain-eating amoeba live on a faucet.
“I don’t think we know the answer to that. If you look through all the scientific literature, I don’t know that that kind of study has ever been done since this is so rare,” Dr. Rosen responded.
But Charlotte County Utilities in conjunction with the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority has changed the way it disinfects its water. They’re using a chlorine burn that kills brain-eating amoebae.
Peace River told WINK News the change is only due to an abundance of caution.