Health officials in Pakistan have reported the death of a 30-year-old Lahore man who contracted the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri. The parasitic infection has been a problem in Pakistan in recent years as more than a dozen died from it last year and to date in Sindh province in 2015, at least 12 people have succumbed to the lethal amoeba.


It was not reveled how the man contracted the parasite.

Naegleria fowleri  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.

In the city of Rawalpindi in Punjab province, local media report that the number of dengue patients seen at the city’s three teaching hospitals has nearly exceeded the total patients seen the previous four years.

From 2011 to 2014, nearly 3,300 patients tested positive for dengue fever at the allied hospitals in town,  while to date in 2015,  the number of patients confirmed positive for the infection has already crossed the figure of 3,200 and the allied hospitals are still receiving 70 to 100 confirmed dengue fever cases daily on average.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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