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Thatta resident dies of Naegleria in Karachi

Thatta resident dies of Naegleria in Karachi

KARACHI: A 40-year-old Thatta resident died on Friday at a private hospital where he had been under treatment for Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as the ‘brain-eating amoeba’, for the past three days.

With the latest case, the death toll from Naegleria fowleri has climbed to four in Sindh, officials said.

Sarfaraz Nawaz, resident of Kheer Bazaar, Sonar Gali, Thatta, had been brought to Karachi three days ago in a critical condition and admitted to a private hospital, the officials said, adding that he died two days after falling into a coma.

Take a look: Another Naegleria case emerges in Sindh

“The patient presented with a history of four days of severe headache, nausea and irritability,” said Dr Zafar Ejaz, director health, Karachi, while speaking to Dawn.

He said the Civil Hospital Makli treated the victim for malaria and then for meningitis and finally when his condition continued to deteriorate the family shifted him to Karachi and admitted him to a private hospital.

“He was on a ventilator at the critical care unit,” said Dr Ejaz. “But his condition never improved and doctors pronounced him dead on Friday.”

Before him, three persons – a teenage girl, a middle-aged woman and a man – were diagnosed in Karachi with the deadly disease. All of them died.

The lethal amoeba survives on the bacteria in warm waters and enters the human brain through nasal cavity and eats up its tissues.

Sarfaraz’s brother, who got him admitted to hospital here in Karachi, told the officials that his sibling had no history of extensive travel or contact with water. He said he had no exposure to water reservoirs given the fact that swimming is one of the key factors that helps the germ to attack.

Previously, a 37-year-old man from Defence Housing Authority, who died a week ago, is suspected to have fallen victim to Naegleria because of rinsing of his nose through poorly chlorinated water during ablution.

Water samples collected by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and officials in the Sindh government last year showed that close to half of the city neighbourhoods were being supplied with water which had insufficient or no chlorine at all.

This year water samples are yet to be collected.

Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis is defined in medical literature as a rare but typically fatal infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba found in rivers, lakes, springs, drinking water networks and poorly chlorinated swimming pools.

The illness attacks a healthy person, three to seven days after exposure to contaminated water with symptoms of headache and slight fever, in some cases associated with sore throat and rhinitis (commonly called stuffy nose).

Naegleria fowleri killed 14 people last year while 15 people died because of it during the previous two years.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2015

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