Naegleria cases surge prompts NIH to issue advisory

03:00 PM, 12 Jun, 2024
Naegleria cases surge prompts NIH to issue advisory

KARACHI: Following a surge in the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri cases, especially in Karachi, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has issued an advisory which has been sent to federal and provincial health departments, as well as water and sanitation agencies.
As per the NIH advisory, since 2008, Pakistan has been reporting cases and deaths due to Naegleria, with recent incidents emerging from various cities, including Karachi. The amoeba poses a serious public health threat, requiring swift attention and action.
The advisory outlined common symptoms of Naegleria infection, which include high fever, headache, vomiting, and neck stiffness. In advanced stages, the infection can lead to coma, the NIH warned. Prompt and accurate diagnosis is crucial, as delayed detection can result in death within 4 to 7 days, it warns.
The NIH calls for maintaining adequate chlorine levels in water supplies to prevent the spread of Naegleria. Inadequate chlorination, particularly during high temperatures, increases the risk of infection. The advisory urges water supply departments to ensure proper chlorination practices.
As per experts, Naegleria fowleri thrives in warm freshwater environments such as rivers, lakes, and hot springs. The infection occurs when contaminated water enters the nose, typically during swimming or other water activities. 
The NIH notes that 75pc of Naegleria cases are diagnosed posthumously, highlighting the need for heightened awareness and preventative measures.
To lower the risk, the NIH advises maintaining clean, cold, and chlorinated water in tanks and pipes. Authorities have been instructed to ensure the cleanliness of water storage and distribution systems to protect public health.