Tag Archives: Sindh

Outbreak of ‘Brain-eating Amoeba’ in Karachi – Information and Prevention FAQ

 

Health Alert!

Outbreak of ‘Brain-eating Amoeba’ in Karachi

 

This is in response to queries regarding the recent Out break of Neagleria fowleri also known as ‘Brain-eating amoeba‘ in Karachi. Following information is provided for your health and safety:

What is Naegleria?

Naegleria is an amoeba (single-celled living organism) commonly found in warm freshwater (for example, lakes, rivers, and hot springs) and soil. Only one species (type) of Naegleria infects people: Naegleria fowleri.

 

How does infection with Naegleria fowleri occur?

Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose. This typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. The Naegleria fowleri amoeba then travels up the nose to the brain where it destroys the brain tissue. You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking contaminated water.

Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water and contaminated tap water) enters the nose, for example when people submerge their heads or cleanse during religious practices (wuzu), and when people irrigate their sinuses (nose) using contaminated tap water.

 

In what water temperature does Naegleria fowleri cause infection?

Naegleria fowleri is a heat-loving (thermophilic) microbe. It grows best at higher temperatures up to 115°F (46°C) and can survive for short periods at higher temperatures.

 

Can I get a Naegleria fowleri infection from a disinfected swimming pool?

No. You cannot get a Naegleria fowleri infection from a properly cleaned, maintained, and disinfected swimming pool.

 

When do Naegleria fowleri infections most commonly occur?

While infections with Naegleria fowleri are very rare, they occur mainly during the summer months of July, August, and September.

 

Can infection be spread from one person to another?

No. Naegleria fowleri infection cannot be spread from one person to another.

What are the symptoms of Naegleria fowleri infection?

Naegleria fowleri causes the disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis.

Initial symptoms of PAM start about 5 days (range 1 to 7 days) after infection. The initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Later symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about 5 days (range 1 to 12 days).

 

What is the actual mechanism of death from Naegleria fowleri infection?

The infection destroys brain tissue causing brain swelling and death.

 

What is the fatality rate for an infected person who begins to show signs and symptoms?

The fatality rate is over 99%.

Is there effective treatment for infection with Naegleria fowleri?

It is not clear. Several drugs are effective against Naegleria fowleri in the laboratory. However, their effectiveness is unclear since almost all infections have been fatal, even when people were treated with similar drug combinations.

What should I do if I have been swimming or playing in freshwater and now think I have symptoms associated with Naegleria fowleri?

People should seek medical care immediately whenever they develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, particularly if they have been in warm freshwater recently.

 

What swimming behaviors have been associated with Naegleria fowleri infection?

Behaviors associated with the infection include diving or jumping into the water, submerging the head under water or engaging in other water-related activities that cause water to go up the nose.

 

How can I reduce the risk of infection with Naegleria fowleri?

Swimming-related risk

  • Use chlorinated and boiled water.
  • Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater.
  • Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
  • Avoid swimming in waters where you suspect poor hygiene and insufficient chlorination.

Non-swimming-related risk

If you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses (for example, Wuzu), use water that has been:

  • previously boiled for 1 minute and left to cool or
  • filtered, using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller or
  • purchased with a label specifying that it contains distilled or sterile water.

 

Courtesy:
Dr. Kamran Dawood
Consultant Microbiologist and
Head of Microbiology and Infection Control Department
Patel Hospital

Further Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/general.html

 

Medical Disclaimer: This is general information provided for educational and awareness purposes. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Spider web cocooned trees in Sindh Pakistan – Protecting PKFloods 2010 areas from Malaria

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(Images: Russell Watkins/DFID)

The 2010 Floods in Pakistan that caused devastation over a major part of the country, also brought about a strange phenomenon. Apparently, the flood waters caused millions of spiders to seek refuge in trees and other vegetation, where they proceeded to spin webs all around the trees. The trees (pictured in the images) look like huge cotton candy but are slowly dying.

pakistan-floods-drive-spiders-into-trees-close-up_34028_600x450

An amazing side-effect of this phenomenon is that the webs are limiting the number of mosquitoes in the area, which given the stagnant water in the area should have been breeding in multitudes. Indeed it is a blessing of Allah (may He be glorified and praised) that after the hardships faced by the people, he has brought them protection for further disease through this amazing phenomenon.

 

 

For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. (Quran 94:5-6)

 
 
 

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Pakistan | Youth Resources: Untapped Potential

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A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz

Preamble

PAKISTAN is fortunately placed at an envious demographic position as one of the “youngest nations on Planet Earth” with nearly 70% of the population below the age of 35. In fact, the peak youth share is around 21% within the ages of 15-24. The advantage of a young population should enable the country’s planning managers and policymakers to prepare a visionary agenda taking into account the benefits, potential, and value of this young force.

Present Scenario

PAKISTAN is still unable to enjoy the demographic dividend that this young population can bring. The pathetic educational system in the country does churn out graduates but most of them are not worth having within the working environment. Technical training centers are set up all over the country managed by the various provincial authorities. At the same time, organizations such as Skill Development Councils have played a defined role in providing skill development and vocational training opportunities to the youth. The Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Program (BBSYDP) is a visionary and practical initiative undertaken for the youth of Pakistan. Moreover, the employment opportunities for the youth, at this moment in time, are relatively very few, very uncertain, and very low paying. In fact, the absorption of youth in the labor market has been limited to a large extent.

Present Challenges

PAKISTAN is in the midst of the unrest being generated by the sense of deprivation and dejection faced by the youth. The young people are entering or ready to enter the job market and are waking up to the stark reality that jobs are scarce, that they are not properly trained to deal with the available jobs, and that they are not sure of the tenure of the position if they are lucky to land a job.

PAKISTAN is at a crossroads when it comes to handling the youth. The benefits of the demographic dividend are not possible if the youth do not enter the labor market, but then if there are no opportunities to become economically active then the youth would be stranded and lost at sea. This here is the challenge. Youth unemployment is endemic and continues to rise. The rhetorical statements of politicians assuring the youth that jobs would be available become stale news once these politicians are safely ensconced behind the portals of power. The dissatisfaction among the youth increases especially when they are exposed to the electronic media that is showing them a different world and in the process creating wants and desires which cannot be satisfied.

PAKISTAN is also subject to other negative outcome of the frustration of these young people. These youth become readily available fodder for extremist forces who take advantage of this deplorable situation. At the same time, many youth, especially in urban areas, have become unwilling partners in crime and this is substantiated by the phenomenal increase in street crimes and petty burglaries. The proliferation of drug use among the youth is a matter of serious concern too.

PAKISTAN is also beset by other factors that have impacted negatively on the economic viability of this country. The billions that are spent on the Global War on Terror, the burgeoning inflationary trends, the pressure on the currency, the increasing cost of petroleum imports, the physical infrastructure handicap, the dependence on borrowings from the multilateral agencies resulting in a dictated economic policy framework, the disconnect between the provinces due to parochial and ethnic compulsions, the political instability, and the excessive non-developmental expenditure, have not only been demoralizing but have seriously affected the viability and sustainability of trade and industry. Unemployment has become the Number One cause of gloom and doom among the populace.

The Way Forward

PAKISTAN government must plan and promote the National Agenda for Youth Resources (NAYR), in consultation with industrial and trade associations, WEBCOP, economists, and educationists, etc. There is an imperative and urgent need to focus on the various modalities and concepts that would enable the formulation and implementation of the NAYR. The major areas would be:

(a) Ensuring literacy

(b) Provision of skill development and vocational training

(c) [Alternatively, entrepreneurship development]

(d) Internship and practical training

(e) Placement opportunities

PAKISTAN is endowed with talent and resources, both natural as well as human. There is a high priority requirement to indulge in out-of-box thinking and prepare this NAYR. The major areas enumerated above can be further elaborated as follows:

PAKISTAN policymakers have to revisit their educational priorities. A sad reality is that the allocations for education in the Federal as well as Provincial budgets diminish every year. The dismal environment in the government-owned schools has affected the proper schooling of children and this has been transformed into a horrific foundation for the youth. At the same time, most of the private schools profess to provide superior education but the cost to parents is alarming, Of course, the educational institutions set up by social or community-based organizations are playing a paramount role in providing decent education. It is proposed that trade and industry associations, chambers, as well as large enterprises must be mandated to set up educational institutions on their own or must financially support organizations such as Citizen’s Foundation so that quality education becomes universally available.

PAKISTAN government must ordain TEVTAs that have been set up in every Province to initiate projects on Private-Public Partnership basis to modernize, upgrade, and renovate the existing technical and vocational training institutions and also must prepare and plan centers and curricula in consultation with WEBCOP and Skill Development Councils as well as trade associations so that the Pakistani youth can enter the global economy as a well-trained and tested professional.

PAKISTAN has a functioning Higher Education Commission and this organization must assist and direct the various educational institutions to develop alternate programs to introduce and impart knowledge-based education to inculcate entrepreneurship in the youth of Pakistan. This would enable trained or skilled youth to become owners rather than depending on employment.

PAKISTAN has not been successful in ensuring that most of the present technical institutions have a working relationship with trade, industry, or the service sectors whereby programs could be planned to provide on-job-training as well as practical working knowledge of the concerned skill. There is also no system of mentoring the youth. This gap has to be reduced and it is essential that the trainee is able to obtain this hands-on facility and resource.

PAKISTAN political government must ensure that it is essential to take on board the chambers and associations to come up with a systematic and pragmatic program that would encourage the members of the associations and chambers to tap into the pool of these trained or skilled youth and utilize them in their establishments. However, it is pertinent to note that market-demand skills should be taught to the youth rather than depending on outdated or routine curriculum.

Essential Areas of Employment

PAKISTAN policymakers have to accept that the objective of NAYR would be to ensure that training is provided in sectors that conform to the requirements of the global economy as well as addressing the cultural, traditional, and national dynamics of the country. It would be beneficial to the nation, to the individual and to the employer.

PAKISTAN has a strong agriculture base. The youth should be trained in operating equipments that are imperative for mechanized farming. This would increase productivity as well as streamline the cultivation of various crops. Training in proper usage of fertilizer, seeds, and other inputs would surely make a marked influence on the economies of the rural areas. At the same time, there is immense scope in fruits and vegetables, right from plucking down to the eating. The fruit and vegetable farms can provide much needed employment to the young people.

PAKISTAN is also increasing its share in the services sector. Educated youth can fill the demand for human resources in various fields in the services sector. Call centers, software programming, hotel and restaurants, sales representatives, cell phone repairs, food catering, enumerators, security services, event management, and transport drivers are areas where formidable job opportunities can be created.

PAKISTAN is going to witness a boom in construction, especially in low-cost housing. There is a backlog of over nine million housing units that have to be built to cope up with housing demands. Private sector is ready to provide training for trades associated with the construction industry. Skilled operators are required for bulldozers, dumpers, loaders, and other construction equipment. BBSYDP does provide short term training for masons, plumbers, electricians, floor tilers, painters, etc. At the same time, there would be ample job opportunities in cement, paint, sanitary fittings, cables, fans, geysers, tiles, and other nearly 40 industries due to the housing boom. There are not that many skilled workers at present to cope up with the upcoming demand by the housing sector.

Conclusion

PAKISTAN can get out of the economic morass if concerted efforts are made with passion and with sincerity. It is also incumbent upon the youth to be serious in acquiring the skills and knowledge to prepare for a career in their chosen fields. Needless to mention, a working youth will generally not resort to fraternizing with extremist elements nor would the youth subscribe to unethical and objectionable activities if one is busy with his vocation. It is only then that Pakistan will greatly gain from and benefit from the demographic dividend deriving from the large potent youth population. The Great Poet Allama Iqbal expressed his admiration for those young people who are achievers:

Mohabat mujhe oon jawano se hai
Sitaron pe jo daaltay hain kamund

 

Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of BBSYDP Sindh

Views expressed in guest posts are the opinions of the author and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of DiscoMaulvi and From The Pulpit…

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