Parasite known as `brain-eating amoeba` kills 10 in Pak

Updated: Oct 10, 2012, 09:07 AM IST

Karachi: A waterborne parasite known as Naegleria fowleri - brain eating amoeba - has killed 10 people in the Pakistan`s financial hub in recent months prompting an emergency meeting of health and water department officials.

Sindh Health Minister Sagheer Ahmed said that 10 deaths had been confirmed from the brain eating amoeba since July including three this month and most of them were young people who used public swimming pools.

"The meeting has decided that the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board should increase chlorine concentrations in water at its major treatment and pumping stations," he said.

"The health department has also been told to increase public awareness about the water borne parasite through various methods," he said.

Musa Khan, in-charge of the World Health Organization`s Disease Early Warning System in Pakistan, also confirmed that the deaths were reported from Karachi.

A Sindh health department official said what was of grave concern to everyone at the meeting was that this parasite travelled to the brain through the nose and people normally used water to clean their nose during abulation for prayers.

Symptoms caused by the amoeba include fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck and headaches.

The Naegleria fowleri amoeba lives in warm, unclean water. It can infect the human nervous system, though this occurs rarely.

The official said victims can die in five to seven days.