The condition of healthcare in Sindh province is degrading day by day, which is raising the threat of severe various health problems on its citizens. Roads are in a dilapidated condition, gutters are overflowing, and garbage is lying everywhere. Citizens of Sindh are suffering from dengue fever, malaria, typhoid, cholera, and brain-eating amoeba.
Brain-eating amoeba, scientifically named as Naegleria fowleri is found in soil and fresh water sources like lakes, rivers, ponds, springs or swimming pools all around the world. Even public drinking water, drainage ditches, plumbing, water heaters, and water toys may harbor this amoeba. During hot times of the year, their population overgrow and cause Naegleria infection. This can occur to anyone who is engaging in water sports or swimming openly or in resorts. Through the nose, the amoeba enters into the body and travel to the brain. It starts destroying brain tissues, affects the nervous system, which ultimately led to death.
In Pakistan, the water suppliers do not add chlorine into the water consistently, which is the most effective way of killing microorganism in the water. And, this neglect cause several deaths throughout the year. Up till now, three deaths have been registered in Karachi during the current year, and sadly, our healthcare system isn’t doing anything for its prevention. Recently, three minor deaths were reported at Ziauddin Hospital. The symptoms start appearing within 24 hours that can take your life within a week. Symptoms which you have to look out for are:
- Extreme headache
- Stomach ache
- High fever
- Stiff neck
- Alternation in the sense of smell and taste
- Coma, and
Anyone who develops the symptoms mentioned above should see the doctor immediately and should tell about all the recent water exposure.
Though this disease progresses very quickly and has a very low survival rate, but if detected early, Naegleria infection is treatable. However, you should take the following necessary precautions on your own to avoid being infected with this dangerous disease, especially during hot months.
- Get your water supply checked
- Treat tap water and freshwater resources with chlorine
- Avoid any kind of activity that involves untreated or non-chlorine-based water
- Avoid swimming pools that aren’t treated with chlorine
- Avoid water tubing and water skiing
- Avoid substandard water parks.
- Swimming pools at Farm houses until and unless they are properly chlorinated.
- Public swimming pools should be well maintained
- Swimmers should check the chlorine and ph level with standard pool test strips before going in
- Keep your head dry above the water during recreational activities
- Use a nose clip to keep fresh water out of the nose during swimming or water-related activities
- Avoid submerging the head or jumping and diving into fresh water
- Don’t sniff water too high in the nose while doing wazoo for prayers
- Keep water heater at minimum 120 degrees F
- Children should be taught to not suck water up to the nose during a shower or in tub
Moreover, the government should take steps to ensure this brain-eating amoeba is eliminated entirely by using chlorinated water treatment methods.
The government should also license pharmaceutical companies to import or supply the drug for this infection – MILTEFOSINE. Miltefosine is an FDA approved the drug which is highly active against amoebic infections and commercially available abroad. Naegleria infected patients, when treated with Miltefosine, survived and recovered with minimal brain damage.