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April 2, 2019

Teen farmer from Sehwan year’s third Congo fever victim in Karachi

Karachi

April 2, 2019

The deadly tick-borne Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) has claimed this year’s third victim in Karachi. A teenage farmer from Sindh’s Sehwan Sharif area died at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) late on Sunday night due to complications from a viral infection, officials said on Monday.

“Abdur Raheem, 19, a resident of Sehwan Sharif, was brought to the JPMC on Sunday with bleeding nose and mouth,” Dr Seemin Jamali, the hospital’s executive director, told The News. “He was put under observation in the isolation ward while his blood sample was sent to the lab for analysis. The teenager died late on Sunday night and his blood test confirmed he was infected with the Congo virus.”

She said this is the third death caused by the deadly Congo virus, as 75-year-old Umer Yaseen and a 35-year-old woman from Orangi Town had died of it in the JPMC’s isolation ward in February.

According to experts, CCHF is a tick-borne viral disease that is caused after a person comes into contact with an animal infected with the Congo virus due to the presence of the parasite on its skin.

Experts say that mostly butchers, sheep and animal herders and those who are associated with cattle farming become victims of CCHF, which has a 40 to 50 per cent mortality rate. The Sindh government recently decided to merge all the vertical programmes dealing with viral and bacterial infectious diseases, including hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and typhoid, to fight these diseases more effectively.

The provincial administration has also formed a 33-member committee comprising officials and experts from the public and private sectors to devise a comprehensive strategy to deal with the growing incidence of infectious diseases across the province.

Dr Seemin said that the latest victim of the deadly viral disease was brought to the JPMC in a precarious condition, with very low platelets count, haemorrhage and other complications. She added that earlier, two victims of the Congo virus were brought to the JPMC from the Liaquat National Hospital, where they had tested positive for the lethal disease.

According to her, all the patients who had expired at the hospital while undergoing treatment had a history of dealing with cattle and were in a serious condition when they were brought to the JPMC.

“We move such patients to an isolation ward where they are given antiviral drugs, mega units and other symptomatic treatment. Last year, many patients infected with the Congo viral infection had survived.”

This year, however, “all three patients succumbed to the deadly infection due to the complications of the lethal ailment. All precautionary measures had also been adopted to prevent other patients and the medical staff from contracting the viral infection”.

She said that many people had contracted this disease in Karachi during their interaction with cattle last year, but they survived due to their strong immunity and medical care they received at different hospitals, including the JPMC.

“People should take precautionary measures while dealing with cattle and livestock,” she said, adding that in case of symptoms like red spots on the body, high-grade fever and blood oozing from the mouth and the nose, they should be rushed to a major hospital.

According to Dr Kamran Rizvi, district officer (preventive) of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, around 16 people had died at different hospitals of the city last year due to CCHF. He said that a majority of them were residents of different parts of Balochistan, including Quetta, as people from that province are now regularly being brought to Karachi for treatment.

He added that a total of 41 Congo virus patients had been brought to different hospitals in Karachi last year, and that apart from 16 patients, all the rest were successfully cured.

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