A 13-year-old boy from Gulshan-e-Iqbal, was admitted to the Darul Sehat Hospital on August 21 and died on August 26 of suspected Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating amoeba, according to Pakistani news source The Express Tribune today.

brain eating amoeba
Naegleria fowleri

“There is no confirmed report available,” Karachi Health executive health officer Dr Zafar Ejaz told the news website.  He said that the hospital lacks the laboratory test facility which could confirm if the boy died of the amoeba. It is not clear how the child may have been exposed to the lethal parasite.

If confirmed, it will be the 10th death due to the free living amoeba.

During the summer of 2012, this area of Pakistan reported 10 Naegleria deaths.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Humans become infected when water containing Naegleria fowleri enters the nose, usually while swimming. People do not get infected by drinking contaminated water. The ameba migrates to the brain along the olfactory nerve, through a bony plate in the skull called the cribriform plate, where it reaches the brain and begins to destroy the brain tissue. The ameba has never been shown to have spread from one person to another.

 The disease is diagnosed using specific laboratory tests available in only a few laboratories.  Because of the rarity of the infection and difficulty in initial detection, about 75% of diagnoses are made after the death of the patient.