KARACHI: Majority of the water samples collected during a study from different parts of the city were either found devoid of any trace of chlorine or had very insufficient amounts of the disinfectant.

The study, which was jointly carried out by Jamil-ur-Rehman Center for Genome Research at Karachi University (KU) and university’s biochemistry department, also detected the presence of Naegleria fowleri (N.fowleri), also called the “brain-eating amoeba”, from the samples collected from Golimar.

“The rare germ causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, (PAM), a deadly brain infection that has claimed several lives in Karachi over the years,” said Prof M. Iqbal Choudhary, the Director of KU’s International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), adding that Pakistan ranked the second country most affected by PAM.

Karachi, he pointed out, had an arid climate with long hot summers. “The city’s weather conditions and a poor municipal water supply system might be the main reason for increased PAM cases,” he observed.

Under the study, researchers also performed genotyping of Naegleria fowleri, which was carried out for the first time in Pakistan.

Dr Muhammad Aurongzeb associated with Jamil-ur-Rehman Center for Genome Research and Dr Yasmeen Rashid, senior faculty member at KU’s department of biochemistry, isolated and identified Naegleria fowleri. The samples were taken from the cerebrospinal fluid of a suspected patient and tap water of his residence.

The team collected tap water samples from across the city to detect presence of the specific germ. N. fowleri type 2 was detected in the water sample collected from Golimar.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2022

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