‘Brain-eating amoeba’ claims one life

Updated May 28, 2014

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Naegleria fowleri is a special organism found in warm water or puddles. — File Photo by AFP
Naegleria fowleri is a special organism found in warm water or puddles. — File Photo by AFP

KARACHI: The city’s health authorities confirmed on Tuesday the death of a 39-year-old man caused by naegleria fowleri, or ‘brain-eating amoeba’.

The man was admitted in a ‘highly critical’ condition to a private hospital last week, they added.

He lived in Gulistan-i-Jauhar town, said the officials. “The victim’s name was Azhar Hussain, a resident of Gulistan-i-Jauhar, who died of naegleria on Saturday after enduring the deadly disease for a day in a private hospital,” said Dr Zafar Ijaz, executive district officer health, Karachi, while speaking to Dawn.

The officials said the victim’s body was taken for burial to his ancestral town in Punjab.

They added that Mr Hussain had no history of swimming, and they suspected the victim had been afflicted with the deadly amoeba while performing ablution somewhere near or inside an industrial unit a relative of his owned.

“He is the first victim of the disease this year in Sindh,” said Dr Ijaz.

Last year, the disease claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy from Korangi, a 20-year-old man from New Karachi’s Godhra Colony and a 40-year-old man from Lines Area.

The disease had claimed 10 lives in 2012.

Officials said a meeting was held on Tuesday with senior officials from the provincial government, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.

The participants in the meeting discussed the matter and formed a coordination committee between the government and the KWSB to ensure that the city’s water was properly chlorinated to prevent any further death because of the disease.

The meeting also decided to form a subcommittee with the mandate to survey swimming pools and water parks to check if they were properly chlorinated.

PAM (primary amoebic meningoencephalitis) is defined in medical literature as a rare but typically fatal infection caused by naegleria fowleri, an amoeba found in rivers, lakes, springs, drinking water networks and poorly chlorinated swimming pools.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2014