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Pakistan reports eighth death due to ‘brain-eating amoeba’ this year

An eighth person, a young male student, has died from the deadly waterborne parasite since May in Pakistan, according to a Dawn.com report Saturday.

Image/CDC

“A senior physician from the hospital has informed me that a 21-year-old Naegleria patient from Federal B Area was admitted to the hospital on Sept 29 and died on Oct 3,” said Dr Shakeel A. Mullick, Infectious disease specialist, adding that this was the second death blamed on Naegleria in the past six days.

The student is the eighth fatality from the dreaded amoeba, mostly young males, during the past six months.

Naegleria fowleri is a relatively rare, pathogenic amoeba 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.

People typically get it 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.

Although Naegleria is relatively rare, unfortunately, treatment is usually unsuccessful with only a handful of people surviving infection.

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.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

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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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  1. Pakistan reports Naegleria fowleri death in Karachi man - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] which recorded an outbreak of the “brain-eating” amoeba, Naegleria fowleri in 2012, which killed 10 people,  has recorded it’s first case and fatality in 2014 in a man from Karachi, according to a […]

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