KARACHI, Oct 7: While senior physicians are still clueless about the spread of much-dreaded ‘brain-eating amoeba’, or Naegleria fowleri, two more deaths from the infection in as many private hospitals have been confirmed by health officials.
With the two newly reported deaths, the total number of patients died due to the brain-eating amoeba reached 10 since May.
The latest known victims of the naegleria fowleri causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) included a three-year-and-nine-month-old boy, who lived in Gulberg Town and died on Sept 30.
A health expert said that it was the high time that physicians and clinicians went beyond book and international researches and deduced any indigenous opinion on the issue.
The dengue surveillance cell of the provincial health department issued the details of the two cases on Sunday.
A 42-year-old man, a resident of Buffer Zone, was admitted to Ziauddin Hospital on Aug 23 with the history of fever, vomiting, and altered consciousness. He died on Aug 26.
The minor boy was admitted to the Habib Medical Centre on Sept 27 and died on Sept 30. Both patients were reported having no history of swimming. Swimming in public pools with improper arrangement for chlorination was believed to be the only cause of contracting the dreaded amoeba infection.
Including the latest victims, 10 people, mostly youths, have fallen prey to the brain-eating amoeba since May.
Officials said that save one, none of the patients died from naegleria so far in the city had the history of swimming.
The focal person of the dengue surveillance cell, Dr Shakeel A. Mullick, told Dawn on Sunday that till Saturday night there was no information either from the hospitals or the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s health officials about the admissions or death of the two patients.
The two deaths due to naegleria have been unearthed by some personnel of the disease early warning system (Dews) of the WHO in Sindh, he said, adding that he was unable to understand why the information related to naegleria infection was not provided by the hospitals concerned on time.
Since May, the Liaquat National Hospital has reported four naegleria positive patients’ death, the Aga Khan University Hospital reported two deaths, Dr Ziauddin Hospital, PNS Shifa Hospital, the Surgeon Munawwar Memorial Hospital and the Habib Medical Centre reported one case each.
The ages of the naegleria victims ranged from about four years to 49 years.
A source in the health department said that a meeting on the subject of naegleria infection had been convened by the provincial health secretary on Monday.What made this infection so terrifying was the fact that it triggered very mild symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, headache and vomiting, which could easily be confused with other non-fatal diseases, the senior physicians noted.
They said that a public service message be prepared jointly by medical and clinical science experts to warn citizens of the naegleria disease.