Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Brain-Eating Amoeba

KARACHI: Authorities in Karachi have launched an urgent investigation after a rare water-borne ‘brain-eating’ amoeba killed 10 people in four months, officials said on Tuesday.

The water company and health officials monitoring water in Karachi have been ordered to trace the source of the Naegleria fowleri outbreak.Saghir Ahmed, Sindh health minister, said the drinking supply, swimming places and facilities used for ablutions were all under investigation. “There is no reason to panic and citizens should stay calm and take precautions,” he 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 in four months. He said there had 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 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.A health ministry statement referring to recent lab tests said 22 percent of 913 samples drawn from water supply sources in the last three months were found to be non-chlorinated.
Title: Brain-Eating Amoeba
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