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Pakistan reports third ‘brain-eating amoeba’ death of 2013

A third person has died from the “brain-eating amoeba”, Naegleria fowleri, in Pakistan this year, according to a Daily Times report.

Pakistan map CIAAccording to Sindh Public Health Department official Ayaz Ahmed, a resident of Saddar town was admitted to a local hospital on Thursday where he died on Saturday evening. “It is the third case this year and we have yet not found any swimming history of the deceased,” he told Daily Times.

What is Naegleria fowleri and how do you contract it?

N. fowleri is a single-celled protozoan parasite (amoeba) that is found in very warm surface waters such as lakes, ponds, and rivers. The warm water temperatures of the hot summer months allow the amoeba to multiply.

People typically get infected by swimming, jumping or playing in freshwater and get the water up their nose. From there the parasite travels to the brain and spinal cord and necrotizes, or basically eats brain tissue.

The disease is known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) and it has a very rapid progression. Typical symptoms may start after a day or two; headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Later symptoms may include seizures, irrational behavior, hallucinations and finally coma and death. The course of the disease typically last about a week. Because the symptoms are very similar to bacterial meningitis, PAM may not even be considered in the diagnosis.

It is a rather rare infection with some 128 known cases recorded in the US since 1962; however, there is only one known survivor. And in the one survivor, it has been suggested that the survivor’s strain of Naegleria fowleri was less virulent.

Treatment for this parasite has been unsatisfactory.

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brain-eating amoeba

Naegleri fowleri Image/CDC

You should always assume there is some risk when swimming in freshwater. The location and number of amoeba present in a body of water varies from time to time. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommends these four steps to reduce your risk of infection:

• Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater, hot springs, and thermally-polluted water such as water around power plants.
• Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
• Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, or hot springs.
• Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

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Video courtesy: Paul Cochrane

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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