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‘Brain-eating amoeba’ claims another life in Karachi

Updated October 10, 2014

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File photo
File photo

KARACHI: A young woman residing in Malir district died of Naegleria fowleri on Thursday, taking the death toll blamed on the ‘brain-eating amoeba’ to 12 in the province, officials said.

She was the second female to die of Naegleria fowleri this year. Officials said Humaira Bano, 25, was a resident of Taiser Town in Malir district. She had been admitted to a private hospital a day before she died.

“We have taken water samples supplied to the area where she lived and sent them for examination,” said Dr Zafar Ijaz, director health, Karachi division.

Dr Ijaz said it was unclear how Ms Bano came into contact with the deadly amoeba. She mostly stayed at home and like other previous cases had no history of swimming — one of the key causes behind primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) or Naegleria fowleri.

“We have launched further investigations to find out how she came into contact with the amoeba,” he added.

A 32-year-old woman resident of Adamjee Nagar in Karachi-East was the last reported victim of Naegleria.

So far none of the 12 victims, 11 in Karachi alone and one in Hyderabad, had a history of swimming, said the official.

Victims of Naegleria include a 57-year-old man, the oldest so far, and a nine-month-old girl, the youngest until now. The first Naegleria-related fatality this year was reported on May 27 in Gulistan-i-Jauhar.

Last year, the disease claimed three lives and in 2012 ten died due to Naegleria.

According to experts this lethal amoeba can only be eliminated through proper chlorination of water.Naegleria fowleri travels through the nasal cavity and directly attacks the brain. The victim exhibits symptoms of headache, slight fever, three to seven days after exposure to contaminated water. In some cases victims also have a sore throat and stuffy nose.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2014