Call to protect people from Congo on Eid

KARACHI: Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Dr Faisal Mahmood, on Thursday said around 16 Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) cases have been reported from Aga Khan Labs across Pakistan in 2014, out of which eight were diagnosed in Karachi.

He shared these statistics in an awareness session on Congo virus organized by Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) at HOB conference room, AKUH here. Senior Instructor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr Irum Qamar Khan also spoke at the session.

Dr Faisal said Congo is deadly viral disease spread through a tick-bite found on animals, and people, who deals with dairy farming and livestock, are most likely to catch the disease. He said a total of 59 Congo viral disease cases had been reported from Aga Khan Labs since 2010 in the country, out of which 27 got treatments in AKHK.

He said 70 percent CCHF patients had completely recovered from disease after brief treatment. He informed that two people had expired from Congo virus in Karachi, out of eight total cases in 2014. He said that prevalence of Congo viral cases is more common in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa as compared to Sindh province.

He said symptoms of Congo virus are high-fever, dizziness, neck pain, backache, muscle aches, sore eyes, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and others. He said symptoms of disease generally appears three to four days after exposure to ticks.

Dr Faisal said people must be extra vigilant in this season to protect themselves from this potentially fatal infection as we are seeing more cases of CCHF in the country in Eid-ul-Azha days. He said: “There are no vaccines available for people or animals and only way to reduce the risk of an infection is to reduce exposure to the virus.”

Senior Instructor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr Irum Qamar Khan, said Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) disease spread through tick-bite to animals, animals to people, and infected person to other person.

She said people could protect themselves and their families through those simple steps like wear long sleeves cloths (ideally buttoned) and closed, resistant shoes with socks, apply insect repellent to exposed areas of the body, take a shower and change your clothes as soon you return home from cattle markets, cover your mouth and nose during initial qurbani(slaughter) to reduce the risk of animals-to-human transmission of virus and keep hand clean by washing frequently to avoid virus. She said eating or preparing meat from an infected animal is safe.

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