The number of cases and fatalities due to the “brain-eating amoeba”, Naegleria fowleri has increased by two this week, bringing the total number of cases in Karachi to five in the past two months, according to the Pakistan news source, The News Friday.

 

Image/CIA
Image/CIA

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) reactivated its Naegleria fowleri monitoring cell in May after the first case was identified.

Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba”), is a microscopic amoeba which is a single-celled living organism. It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals. Infections can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM (which destroys brain tissue) and is usually fatal. Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels.

Naegleria fowleri infections are rare. Most  infections occur from exposure to contaminated recreational water. Cases due to the use of neti pots and the practice of ablution have been documented. You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking contaminated water and the amoeba is not found in salt water.

Initial symptoms of PAM usually start within 1 to 7 days after infection. The initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Other symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly.  For more infectious disease news and informationvisit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

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