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Brain-eating amoeba claims life in Lahore

Brain-eating amoeba claims life in Lahore

LAHORE: After causing havoc across Karachi, the brain-eating amoeba (Naegleria) now reaches Lahore as a death by the deadly disease was officially confirmed here on Friday.

The infection killed a 30-year-old account officer, Azhar Abbas of Farooq Colony, Walton Road. He was diagnosed positive in the clinical investigations carried out by doctors at the Services Hospital.

Admitted on Oct 20, Abbas died of the disease on Oct 28 in the Intensive Care Unit of the Services Hospital.

To an utter shock, the case was reported in the winter season while such cases usually surface in summer, an official privy to the information told Dawn.

He said the health authorities were blind towards factors behind the emergence of the first case of a brain-eating amoeba in Lahore.

Public health officials say the main source of this parasite is the surface water, swimming pools and the clean drinking water, advising citizens to use chlorinated water to avoid risk of contracting the fatal infection.

The official shared with regret that since the amoeba was a water-borne disease, the chlorination of over 300 tubewells out of the total 500 in the provincial capital was not done by Wasa.

Terming it a criminal negligence of Wasa authorities which were providing water supply to most of the population, he said health department officials expressed concern at the sorry state of affairs.

Health DG Dr Zahid Pervez said the death by brain-eating amoeba set alarm bells ringing for citizens since the disease carried dreadful fatality rate.

He said the health department had convened many emergent meetings to take stringent measures by issuing strict instructions to Wasa and other relevant departments of the government.

Services Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Umer Farooq Baloch said Azhar Abbas was brought to hospital on Oct 20 with history of fits and high temperature. During clinical investigation, he was suspected to be a patient of brain-eating amoeba.

“We immediately sent samples of the patient to Aga Khan lab for the identification of amoeba in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF),” Dr Baloch said, adding the report later confirmed the death by brain-eating amoeba.

The DG said teams had collected six water samples from the victim’s workplace, his residence and its surroundings. He said the water samples sent to the Institute of Public Health, Lahore, for analysis were turned out to be negative.

Wasa Deputy MD (Operations) Asghar Bhalli said the chlorination of the water supply had been intensified. He said further instructions would be passed on to Wasa officials in the wake of the first Naegleria case in Lahore.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2015

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