Investigation launched after 'brain-eating' amoeba kills 10 in Karachi

By AFP
Published: October 9, 2012
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The amoeba causes primary amoebic meningitis, a disease with a fatality rate of over 99 percent.
ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

The amoeba causes primary amoebic meningitis, a disease with a fatality rate of over 99 percent. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

KARACHI: Authorities in Pakistan’s largest city have launched an urgent investigation after a rare water-borne “brain-eating” amoeba killed 10 people in four months, officials said Tuesday.

The water company and health officials monitoring water in Karachi, home to 18 million people, have been ordered to trace the source of the Naegleria fowleri outbreak.

Sindh Health Minister Dr Saghir Ahmed said the drinking supply, swimming places and facilities used for ritual ablutions were all under investigation.

“There is no reason to panic and citizens should stay calm and take precautions,” Ahmed said.

“It is a water-borne infection and we are thoroughly inquiring about its arrival and spread here.”

Shakeel Malick, a health ministry official, said the amoeba had caused 10 deaths so far this year. He said there have been cases in the past, but so few that detailed numbers were not recorded.

The amoeba causes primary amoebic meningitis, a disease with a fatality rate of over 99 percent, said Faisal Mehmood, an expert in infectious diseases.

Naegleria fowleri is found in warm fresh water and usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. The amoeba passes through the nasal membranes and destroys brain tissues.

The ablutions Muslims must perform before praying involve rinsing inside the nose and Ahmed said people should use boiled water for the purpose while the outbreak was going on.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said nine cases had been confirmed and one more was suspected. It is working with Pakistani officials to investigate the cases and work out steps to prevent further infections.

“We are visiting houses of the victims and profiling their history,” Musa Khan, WHO’s head of disease early warning system in Pakistan, told AFP.

Misbahuddin Farid, who heads the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, said chlorine concentration was being increased in reservoirs and supply stations as a precaution.

A health ministry statement referring to recent lab tests said 22 per cent of 913 samples drawn from water supply sources in the last three months were found to be non-chlorinated.

 

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Waqar
    Oct 9, 2012 - 7:23PM

    Wow … Not a single comment. I guess all secular and liberal fascists are out to see doctor Recommend

  • Sohail Khurshid
    Oct 9, 2012 - 7:31PM

    It seems the brain eating amoeba has already left its impact after gnawing away at Pakistani minds for the last 65 years.

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  • Enlightened
    Oct 9, 2012 - 8:19PM

    Sectarian and inter party rivalry resulted in deaths of thousands of Karachites in the past few years and now this deadly water borne bacteria killing more people only proves that this city is a cursed.

    Recommend

  • Haroon Masood
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:19PM

    WHEN ANY NATION IS IGNORANT OF IMPROVING THEMSELVES THEN EVERY BAD THING HAPPENS…….AND IT MAY BECOME AN EPIDEMIC AND IMAGINE IF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE ATTACKED BY THIS AMEABA.

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  • Honky Tonk
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:24PM

    @ Waqar
    That’s because the liberal fascists have a brain to protect, unlike all the religious fanatics who are brain dead and aren’t at risk to begin with…

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  • Rafay
    Oct 10, 2012 - 2:00AM

    Its all related to other problems. Kswb cannot carry out treatment (that is if they want to) since corruption, the tanker mafia and illegal hydrants have just left them as the ones who turn off pipes and then take money to provide our water to the tanker middlemen

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  • Free Baloch
    Oct 10, 2012 - 4:56AM

    Crap! whoever left in pakistan with brain are gone now.

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  • HADI SAKEY
    Oct 10, 2012 - 6:03AM

    It should attack the brain dead prayer leaders and single digit IQ holder Politicians only.

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  • Yaida M
    Oct 10, 2012 - 6:15AM

    I thought this particular brain-eating bacteria will starve to death in Pakistan !!

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  • anon
    Oct 10, 2012 - 10:20AM

    Instead of all these nonsensical comments how about we post something to the tune of – may all of us be spared by this infectious disease and may the problem find a solution soon Ameen. Seriously – sometimes I think this place is used as a sounding board to voice people’s frustrations (personal more than anything) than have a healthy discussion/debate.

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