Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) or Congo virus is a widespread viral disease that is commonly spread by the bite of infected tick or by direct contact with blood of an infected animal or human. Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever is endemic in Pakistan. Its first case diagnosed in 1976, since then sporadic cases have continued to occur in almost all parts of the country.
This year total reported cases of CCHF are 61 with 20 deaths. Mostly cases have been reported from Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi.
Symptoms of this disease include high fever along with pain in joints and other parts of the body, vomiting, diarrhoea, some people also exhibit signs of haemorrhage. Throat pain is also one of the common discomforts experienced as a symptom of this condition. Bleeding from gums, skin and large intestine may also occur and red spot appears on the body.
After recent surge in CCHF cases in the country, the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad with national and international health authorities took positive steps to contain the seasonal spike. Surveillance and laboratory diagnosis for early detection of cases, infection control measures in health care facilities and risk communication have been strengthened by the NIH.
The NIH also conducted a series of trainings during the month of September in major cities of the country. In this connection one day training workshops have been conducted by the NIH at major hospitals of Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Lahore, Multan and Bahawalpur on the request of Provincial Health Department Punjab. Special one-day training was also arranged for healthcare professionals working in Faisalabad, Lahore and Gujranwala Division. The main purpose of these trainings were to sensitise the participants regarding early detection and treatment of CCHF cases, control and prevention. During these trainings facilitators described the current situation of CCHF in the country. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) also demonstrated and practiced in the trainings.
The NIH also trained provincial and district laboratory staff on biosafety measures including proper sample collection, packaging and transportation in the above trainings. The NIH also provided free of cost CCHF diagnostic facility for suspected patients admitted in public and private hospitals. As per directives of Minister of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination, 24 hours emergency lab facility for CCHF is ensured at the NIH to provide same day diagnostic facility to all concerned.
In spite of all above activities the NIH also established federal and provincial
Disease Surveillance Units (DSRUs) to support provincial health departments in disease surveillance and outbreak investigations at provincial headquarters.
For the prevention and control of CCHF cases, an advisory has been issued to all concerned by the NIH in August which is available on NIH website: www.nih.org.pk
(The writer is Focal Person Media, NIH Islamabad)