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. r

    THank you for responding CNN , by doing what you just did ! Peace and Love

    October 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • truthordare7

      so, what is new? Muslims crying foul for any insult in their direction but have no problem killing people and burning other people place of worship over the stupidest things. Oh, that's right! it is done by those extremists. Sure, pal, I call bs on that. Change your religion. It is an intolerant and hateful religion that spreads war and conflict all over the world. Look around you.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NotTooPC

    While sympathetic to the water issues in Pakistan, I am more intrigued by the picture of the Kid riding the bicycle with the two large balloons...

    October 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Um, you guys *do* realize that the five Americans who died from this were living in the United States, right?
    Yeah, that's what I said...it's here already.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      Thanks @ banasy
      for reminding us. I now remember those incidents. We have this scourge here to. So much for all those gloating over the deaths 'over there'.

      October 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank in Pensacola, FL

      Ummm...it's not a "scourge". It's not a punishment (from God or Allah or any other deity). It's not even CLOSE to a frequent problem that is persistent and troublesome (except to those poor unfortunates who get it).

      MALARIA is a scourge. N. fowleri is a RARE opportunistic infection.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. saywhat

    @Mike
    Read history.
    since we the Westerners have been making more wars than any other people on this planet and are responsible for killing more of each other and others, you comments seem rather absurd.
    @r
    No need to get worked up, man. We have our faults and others have theirs. God, Allah,Ishwar, Yahweh, Budhdha, Jesus and others that millions worship. Need is to understand not be hateful. Got to share this planet, folks.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • r

      good response my freind .... "Let's Share This Planet"

      That is all we ask , and lest help each other, if there are extermists , it does not mean everyone is .. Today, extermism is a religo of its own, and has nothing to do with any God the people want to worship, I will not act as a fool and say there is no terrorism, but it is not in the hands of the innocent muslims, innocent jewish , innocent cristians , we just want to live and eventually die a happy and fullfilled life, having done most of we have wrote on our bucket list, that is all !! " Let us share this planet" that is all that should have been said .. Thank you . Peace love and Unity

      October 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      "... Westerners have been making more wars than any other people on this planet and are responsible for killing more of each other and others, you comments seem rather absurd"

      Speaking of absurd, how are your math skills? Care to hazard a guess how many different wars have occurred in Africa and South/Southeast Asia over the past 50 years? Do you count China's cultural revolution in your numbers? Because, last I heard, that 70 million number is more than all wars fought by Western Civilization combined.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alizeh

    Grow up people.... This is serious and is killing ppl...This has nothing to do with religion...It can happen to anybody anytime..Hell!It can even happen to u God forbid!.. Get your head out of the clouds and smell the heart breaking scent of reality!!!...religion is a personal issue and u should keep ur noses out of it...

    October 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sinfully Yours

    So this little bug is the cause of humanities downfall...

    ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE!!!!!!

    October 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sinfully Yours

    So it has begun...this little bug is our downfall...

    ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE!

    October 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. David Stone

    I would think that brain-eating creatures would starve in a muslim country....hmmmm

    October 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • ThinAir

      LOL man that made my day

      October 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      generalizing about a whole religion makes you sound really smart. – i d i ot.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • truthordare7

      Now that is a brilliant joke. Reason lives in the politically world and the Amoebas will have a hard time on his brain too. haha

      October 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      As does name-calling, Reason.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobpitt

      Surprised me..!!! ten people actualy die from that Bug... but here in the US has never killed anybody, just look at Sarah Paling still walks around and spews nonsense..

      October 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      Wow, really Bob?

      October 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • dre

      I am sure it has run its course

      October 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lynn

    You only know what you are told.....imagine what you have NOT been told. Wow!!

    October 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    Where in Pakistan did the amoeba find 10 people with brains?

    October 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • dre

      My thoughts exactly

      October 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michel

      You certainly don't have one

      October 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • obie Islam

      lol I was thinking the same thing

      October 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ROMNEY 2012

    Proof that God is on our side... for now.
    Vote for Romney, or that will change!

    October 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      That's the most ignorant thing I've heard all day. Sounds like you and David Stone above should hang out together.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • tjp44

      actually, no, the most ignorant thing we hear all day will come from the White House from the king of Ignorance

      October 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • want2believe

      By your logic, if Romney looses wasn't your God already against his and your side? Or is that kind of reasoning just beyond you?

      October 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      What if Romney tights?

      October 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobpitt

      Nothing wil change.. he still has the bug but in his case came up his butt

      October 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      Bob, I suggest posting in English.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. seyedibar

    Neti pots are dangerous. We've seen this time and time again, from pneumonia to mold to bacteria, that it is not healthy to irrigate the sinuses.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Greg

    To make such a statement as so many others here have done is truly a sign of intolerance and ignorance.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Marcus

    Interesting how the libs hate all religions except Islam. I think it's because like Islam, libs have a lot of hate in them.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • watchfuliiiii

      No I hate them all. Maybe hate is too strong a word. Pity would be better. I Pity the fools who are led like sheep. Guilty for being born aren't you. Religion is just a way to control the masses.

      October 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      You pity the fools? You part of the Church of Mr. T?

      October 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pinky slim

    When officials say there is no reason for panic. That really means run screaming for mercy.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
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