A nine-month-old girl has become the sixth Naegleria fowleri, or “brain-eating amoeba” fatality reported in the Karachi area in the past two months, according to a Dawn.com report today.
It is reported that the child, Mahnoor Imran, contracted the lethal parasite during a bath by her family in their house in Railway Housing Society in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Block-13. She died two days after being admitted to the hospital.
“She is the youngest victim of Naegleria since 2012 when the disease emerged,” said a health department official. “A four-year-old boy was previously the youngest victim who died in 2012.” In 2012, 10 people died from the brain-eating amoeba.
It is reported that the water supply where the child lived demonstrated very low chlorination levels after laboratory analysis. Nearly half of the water supplied in the metro area is showing low chlorine levels.
Five out of six Naegleria-related deaths belonged to Karachi while a young man who died early this month in a Karachi private hospital originally came from Hyderabad.
This relatively rare, pathogenic amoeba is found in warm or hot freshwater like lakes, rivers and hot springs. It is also possible to get it from dirty unchlorinated or under-chlorinated swimming pools. This parasite is found worldwide and in the United States, it is found in mainly in the southern-tier states.
Naegleria fowleri is a single celled, free-living amoeba. It is also called the “brain-eating amoeba”.
People typically contract this parasite when contaminated water rushes up the nose when jumping into the water. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). From here it destroys brain tissue with a fatality rate of well over 99 percent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), initial symptoms of PAM start about 5 days (range 1 to 7 days) after infection. The initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Later symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about 5 days (range 1 to 12 days).
Treatment for this parasite has been unsatisfactory. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page