AT least eight people died in Karachi due to primary amoebic meningo-encephelitis (PAM) this year. This is a micro-organism which lives in bodies of warm fresh water like swimming pools, rivers, lakes and storage of water supply.

It is also found in soil, near warm water discharges of industrial plants, and unchlorinated swimming pools in an amoeboid or temporary flagellate stage.

It is a heat-resistant organism and survives even at 46 degrees of temperature. It is observed in the months of July, August and September.

The disease starts with fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. It progresses in three to seven days and affects the brain. A patient develops a symptom of confusion, hallucinations and fits. The mortality rate is 98 per cent because the drugs available are not so effective. Amphotericin B is used which is not completely effective and, therefore, a combination of drugs play a little role if administered in time.

Naegleria enters the nose of a person while swimming, diving, taking a bath in the river and the lake. It causes necrosis of nasal mucosa and reaches brain by climbing along nerves through the cribriform plate via the floor of cranium and starts affecting the brain.

The organism begins to consume cells of the brain piecemeal by means of a unique sucking apparatus extended from its cell surface. Hence called as ‘brain eating amoeba’.

This infection is diagnosed by the examination of cerebrospinal fluid on microscope by staining and culture. Culture takes time and, hence the delay in diagnosis: the fast method nowadays to diagnose this disease is PCR test.

How to prevent it? The answer is to avoid the entry of water into nose while swimming, taking a bath and cleaning the nose. If unavoidable, then do not clean it by forceful sucking of water into the nose.

Water in swimming pools, water- supply storage tanks, water parks at entertainment places should be thoroughly chlorinated and this is not a difficult job. The government should act on time before hundreds and thousands die.

DR MURLIDHAR Karachi

More From This Section

Afghan election: a people’s victory

AFGHAN election, on April 5, was a day of triumph for all Afghans, including women, who played their due role with...

Ending power crisis

Energy resources are the backbone of economic development of any country. Pakistan has been facing the problem of...

Waste-to-energy

THIS is apropos Khunsha Khalid’s letter ‘Waste-to-energy’ (March 28) and mixed comments thereon by some...

CCI and Sindh

THE Chamber of Commerce and Industries’ meeting was recently held at which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to...


Comments are closed.

Comments (8)

Ali
July 31, 2012 9:37 am
"The government should act on time before hundreds and thousands die." Hundreds and thousands? Based on eight cases of a non-contagious amoeba infection? I appreciate the information but isn't that a little alarmist? Also, it would have been good to have an article about this in layman's terms. And if you're lifting entire sentences from Wikipedia, the right thing to do is quote your source. In this case it would be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naegleria_fowleri
AHK
July 31, 2012 9:23 am
decision to set up a committee will be made in the meeting to be held next week
Cyrus Howell
July 31, 2012 5:51 am
"The government should act on time before hundreds and thousands die." It is one of the government's top priorities. They are having a meeting about it next week.
Adeel
July 31, 2012 5:59 am
Or rather setting up a committee
U M
July 31, 2012 9:27 am
"Rehman Malik has directed police force, special branch, and all agencies to work in close coordination to locate Amoebas and shoot-at-sight"
asfi
July 31, 2012 6:49 pm
Molana Diesel who is presently the Chairman of kashmir committee feels himself feels jobless. I think he should be given the job to find some way out.
Razzaq
July 31, 2012 7:14 pm
And if this is not successfull,he will ask Interpol to issue a Red Warrant.
Anon
August 10, 2012 7:36 am
plus a ban on pillion riding in karachi till this bacteria leaves karachi and goes someplace else...
Explore: Indian elections 2014
Explore: Indian elections 2014
How much do you know about Indian Elections?
How much do you know about Indian Elections?
Cartoons
E-PAPER
Front Page