Health officials in Pakistan’s largest city are investigating an outbreak of a “brain-eating” amoeba that has claimed 10 lives over four months. The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, lives in warm, dirty water, according to CBS News. Known as the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri rarely infects human nervous systems, but when it does, death can result within a week.
The World Health Organization said that although 10 people have died on Karachi, the threat of further infection remains minimal. Musa Khan, who is in charge of the WHO’s Disease Early Warning System in Pakistan, told CBS that Pakistani authorizes have launched an initiatvive to educate the public about the amoeba and its dangers.
“There is no need to panic over these deaths,” Khan said to CBS. “There is a remote chance for the spread of this deadly disease.”
Saghir Ahmed, a health minister in southern Pakistan, was cited by Business Insider as saying the danger isn’t in drinking the infected water, but swimming in it and using the dirty water to wash clothing or dishes. Naegelia fowleri enters the body through mucuous membranes and then destroys brain tissue.
“There is no reason to panic, and citizens should stay calm and take precautions,” Ahmed said. “It is a water-borne infection and we are thoroughly inquiring about its arrival and spread here.”
The infections have not been limited to Pakistan, though, as an Indiana man was hospitalized in September after reporting a headache, nausea, vomiting and fever. Two months before, a South Carolina boy was killed by the rare brain infection. CBS reported that only one out of the 123 people diagnosed in the U.S. with the brain-eating amoeba have survived in the years between 1962 and 2011.