By Farah Jamil
Last month, in Karachi two people lost their lives to Naeglaria Fowleri.
According local media reports, 37-year-old, Farooq Mir, died of the brain-eating naegleria fowleri. After four days of treatment, he could not survive.
Earlier, an eighteen-year-old girl, admitted to a private hospital died during treatment.
Not just in Pakistan, but Naegleria cases have been reported worldwide as well. In US, approximately 132 cases have been reported till now, according to reports received from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Basically, Naegleria is a rare and fatal brain infection. It is a free-living, amoeba typically found in warm bodies of fresh water, such as ponds, lakes, rivers and hot springs.
The infection caused by the ameoba is dangerous as its patient cannot survive for more than a week. This infection travels up the nose to the brain, where it causes severe damage. You cannot get infected from drinking water contaminated with Naegleria. You can only be infected when contaminated water goes up through your nose.
The infection is diagnosed by examining spinal fluid under the microscope to identify the amoeba.
Symptoms of Naegleria disease
The symptom starts 1-7 days after the infection. Headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting are considered to be the initial symptoms. As the disease proceeds, there is a loss of orientation between time and space, and fits.
The disease has 99 percent mortality rate; which means only one percent survive the illness. The only solution is prevention.
Prevention from Naegleria fowleri
The health ministry of Sindh places the following preventive measures in its public awareness campaign.
Naegleria grows in unchlorinated water. So when the temperature soars avoid swimming in freshwater lakes or pools.
Avoid disturbing the sediment
While swimming in shallow, warm fresh waters, it is better to avoid disturbing the sediment. While swimming keep your head above the water or use a nose clip.
Clean your nostrils with distilled water
If you are cleansing your nostrils do it with boiled water which is later cooled or distilled water.