A boy drinking unsaved water he filled from Hand pump near him, Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, Pakistan.
Naegleria Fowleri, a parasitic protozoan, also commonly known as ‘the Brain-eater’ attacked Karachi.
The presence of N. fowleri amoebae in Karachi municipal water supply may have several elucidations. First, Karachi is devoid of an indigenous water source and water obtained from the two suburban freshwater lakes is not adequately filtered or chlorinated. Moreover, common leaks in water and sewage pipes can cause outflow of sewage into the water supply, which may be a potential reservoir for the amoebae.
Found worldwide in moist soil, fresh water ponds, lakes and swimming pools.
Naegleria Fowleri is thermophilic (heat loving) and proliferates during the tropical and temperate climates. The usual source of acquiring the protozoan is diving in to pools and ponds.
victims contracted the parasite after washing their noses using tap water.
The organism enters the body of its host via the nasal cavity and reaches the brain via olfactory nerves. As soon as it enters the brain, it initiates destroying the brain cells so quickly that death is certain within a couple of weeks, if no treatment is acquired.
The deadly organism forms a cyst to protect itself from the body’s immune system. The disease thus caused is termed as Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) and is usually difficult to diagnose because of its mild symptoms such as Headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, lethargy, increase somnolence, seizures, stiff-neck, etc., which highly resemble bacterial or viral meningitis.
the infection can be diagnosed by examining the spinal cord under the microscope. Newer methods using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) are also being developed which could facilitate early detection.