October 10th, 2012
09:59 AM ET

Brain-eating amoebas kill 10 in Pakistan

A waterborne, brain-destroying species of amoeba has killed 10 people in Karachi, Pakistan, this year, prompting local water officials to increase the amount of chlorine in the city’s water supply and advise residents to use sterilized water when performing a Muslim ritual which involves cleansing the nostrils.

Misbahuddin Farid, managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, said the origin of the amoebas had not been determined, according to a report in the Dawn newspaper.

Naegleria fowleri

The amoeba, known by the scientific name Naegleria fowleri, is virtually impossible to detect in the water and its presence in humans is determined by spinal tests, according to information on the water board’s website.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Naegleria fowleri amoeba causes a severe brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. The disease is usually fatal.

The amoeba most commonly enters the body through the nasal passages and usually infects people who have been swimming in warm freshwater lakes and rivers, according to the CDC.

But it can exist in improperly chlorinated swimming pool or heated tap water, the CDC says.

Only one of the 10 victims of the current outbreak in Pakistan had visited a swimming pool, according to another report from the Dawn newspaper, so authorities are focusing on the Muslim ablution ritual, or waddu.

“Special care should be taken when doing waddu, brushing teeth or cleaning the nasal area,” the water board’s website says.

Two people in the U.S. state of Louisiana died from the amoeba last year after apparently contracting it when rinsing their sinuses with a neti pot, a small vessel used to pour warm water into one nostril and out the other.

Three other Americans died last year after contracting the amoeba while swimming.

The Karachi water board said it would increase chlorine content in the water supply for the city of more than 15 million people after tests of more than 900 water samples taken around the city found 22% to be unchlorinated or have insufficient levels of the chemical, according to a report in the Dawn newspaper.

Saghir Ahmed, minister of health for Sindh state, in which Karachi is located, said residents should be safe if they followed the water board’s advice.

“There is no reason to panic and citizens should stay calm and take precautions,” Ahmed was quoted by Dawn as saying.

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Filed under: Health • Pakistan
soundoff (312 Responses)
  1. NorCalMojo

    Nuke before you Neti.

    Brain eating amoebas scare the hell out of me.

    October 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      That being said, I've been invited to an amoeba pizza party. I'm really scared.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joeblow

    god I hope there are alot and I mean ALOT more that die from this in pakistan!

    October 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Pope

    Theose must be the same ones that ate Romney's brain!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Atul Chaudhary

      You meant the same brain that he used in the last debate. This of it, if he had full brain what would have been Pres Obama's situation. He couldn't even debate with someone with very little brain. 🙂

      October 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • VladT

      Well, we made it with 7 responses before some idiot included an anti-Obama or anti-Romney comment.

      Pope, grow up

      October 11, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Navydude

      now THAT'S funny!!

      October 11, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tat

    Poor Amoebas

    October 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mdell27

    Sounds like they may have been using a Neti pot. You have to make sure you use distilled water, no matter where you live.

    October 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sudhir

    Here we call it Talibanarea,

    October 10, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 5TH AMENDMENT

    That disease has been in DC for years!

    October 11, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ancient Texan

    This explains the situation in our Nation's capitol.

    October 11, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jacob

    amoebas, not your usual viral nuisance.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tw

    1)i wish those 10 killed were stupid terrorist who are uneducated fools who only know how to kill.
    2)i wish there were more than 10 killed.

    October 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Never wish death to anyone.

      October 12, 2012 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
    • linda

      Only a fool would wish death to another human being.

      October 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gail

      ...I concer wholeheartedly with the previous comment.....

      October 12, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • TW

      I think you're a terrorist because you protest way too much...least we don't need to spend hundreds of billions to find you.

      October 13, 2012 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Jos Bleau

      That explains what's going on in this country.

      October 13, 2012 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Caiha

      Right, let's all throw a fit because some 10 year old said something ignorant online.

      October 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rasheed

      So, I guess you want to enjoy another 9/11?

      Proud Pakistani

      October 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • rjwiseguy

      What can anyone exspect. They live in filth and drink water that has human and animal waist in what they drink and bathe in.

      October 16, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • KillYoMama.

      Call me a fool then.
      Paky's can die.

      October 25, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. NEMZEBADA

    Democrats support affirmative action programs in employment and college programs. Think before you vote.

    October 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Dont tell us to think before we vote by throwing out super generalized facts.

      October 12, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      And repugs support death panels.
      See, you are not the only one who can make stupid, unrelated remarks.
      Turn Rush off and take a nap.

      October 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • OvernOut

      How much money are you "think before you vote" posters making? You guys (or is it just one of you) are busy spamming CNN, your friends must be handling the robocalls.

      October 13, 2012 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • HEMLOCK

      That's asking a lot for most voters

      October 17, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. ban

    to bad it was not the taliban cowards that shot the little 14 yr old school girl a few days ago.

    October 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Professor

    "authorities are focusing on the Muslim ablution ritual, or waddu."

    At least we know they were not Jihadists- these are BRAIN eating amoebas after all.

    October 12, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. EmmetEarwax

    Well, this vile amoeba normally exists in water,- but finds brain tissue a gourmet feast.
    Curious that Entamoeba Coli is satisfied to eat residual nutrients in the colon, when a close relative Entamoeba Histolytica strip-mines the colon lining causing distressing symptons and can even cause death. If a Taliban DOES get amoebic meningitis, it's just a coincidence -in a chaotic world.

    October 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Frank Montgomery

    My thoughts exactly

    October 13, 2012 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
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