KARACHI: Naegleria fowleri — a rare but deadly organism that can be killed by chlorine — has claimed another life in the city.
Sources told Dawn that the 28-year-old victim, a resident of DHA Phase IV and an engineer by profession, died on Monday night at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).
They said the total reported cases of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) — a disease of the central nervous system caused by Naegleria fowleri — in Karachi this year now stood at six.
When contacted, JPMC’s deputy executive director Dr Yahya Tunio confirmed the death and said it’s the first mortality by PAM this year at the hospital.
“The victim was initially treated at a private hospital before being brought to the JPMC on Sunday morning with a history of headache, fever and mental confusion. This was followed by vomiting and seizures,” he explained, adding that the patient’s condition further deteriorated and he was put on a ventilator.
He said information gathered from the family indicated that the victim had no history of swimming and that their house was being supplied with water through tankers.
“N.fowleri thrives in warm, freshwater and can enter the body through the nose where it travels to the brain and starts destroying tissues. That’s why it’s called the “brain-eating amoeba”. The resulting illness (PAM) is almost always fatal,” he said, adding that the germ cannot survive in cool, clean, chlorinated water.
Last month, the majority of the water samples collected from different parts of the city during a Karachi University (KU) were either found devoid of any trace of chlorine or had very insufficient amounts of the disinfectant. It also detected the brain-eating amoeba from the samples collected from Golimar.
Sources said deaths related to PAM have been regularly reported from Karachi since 2008. At least 150 people have died of the disease in Pakistan over the past 14 years.
Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2022