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July 2, 2019

Congo fever claimed three lives in Karachi last month, say officials


July 2, 2019

KARACHI: Three people, including a woman, died due to Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in Karachi in the month of June 2019, Sindh health department officials said on Monday and called for collaborative efforts to prevent more deaths because of the tick-borne viral disease after the arrival of sacrificial animals in the city from today.

“Three people, two men and a woman, have died due to Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in Karachi, all three at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), in the month of June 2019. With these deaths, the number of deaths due to the lethal, tick-borne disease has reached five,” an official of the Sindh Health Department told The News.

“Arab Rajabi Ali Muhammad, a 20-year-old resident of the Taiser Town area of Gadap, Karachi, was the latest victim of the tick-borne viral disease, who died on June 12, 2019, at Aga Khan University Hospital,” the official said, adding that the deceased was brought to the private hospital on June 10 and died due to complications two days later.

Similarly, Wali Muhammad Achakzai, 36, a resident of Quetta, Balochistan, was brought to the AKUH with a high-grade fever and bleeding from nose and mouth on June 4, the health department official said, adding the patient died due to complications of the viral disease on June 6.

“Ms Noora Shahira Khan, 50, a resident of Zia Colony, Metroville SITE, was the first victim of CCHF in the month of June 2019, who was taken to the AKUH on June 3 and died on the same day,” the official said, adding that so far five people had died due to Congo in Karachi this year.

Two persons -- a 35-year old woman from Orangi Town Karachi, Tazeem Faizan, and 54-year-old resident of Sehwan Shareef, Muhammad Raheem – had lost their lives due to Congo fever at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) in February and March respectively.

Health department officials said that nine CCHF positive patients had been brought to Karachi’s public and private hospitals, of whom five expired while four got better and were discharged. “Three of the victims of CCHF were from different areas of Karachi, while one each was from the interior of Sindh and Balochistan,” the health department official said.

Surge in CCHF cases feared

With the establishment of eight legal and several illegal cattle markets in Karachi from today, health department officials feared that more CCHF cases could emerge in the city and advised the hospitals and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to take preventive measures at the earliest to save precious lives in the city.

“The commissioner Karachi has allowed the establishment of eight cattle markets in Karachi for Eid-ul-Azha this year while several illegal cattle markets would also be established in the city, where sacrificial animals from the entire country would be brought for sale. We fear a surge in CCHF cases if strict preventive measures are not adopted by the health and KMC authorities,” said Dr Kamran Rizivi, an official of the health department.

He maintained that it was the responsibility of the KMC to spray every animal and vehicle bringing sacrificial animals to Karachi with insecticides so that ticks could be eliminated before the animals entering the city. He also urged the media to make the people aware of the preventives measures.

“People should wear gloves and masks while visiting the cattle markets and inspecting the animals. Children should be discouraged to visit the cattle markets and touching the sacrificial animals. Sacrificial animals should be sprayed with insecticides to get them rid of ticks that carry the Congo virus,” Dr. Rizvi added.

Checking sacrificial animals

In order to prevent spread of CCHF in Karachi and save precious lives, the health department of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has asked the veterinary department to take immediate measures to prevent the entry of infected animals into Karachi, and in this regard deploy teams of veterinary experts at cattle markets and entry points.

“I have written a letter to the veterinary department of KMC for deployment of teams of veterinary experts at the cattle markets and the city’s entry points to thwart the arrival of infected animals in Karachi,” said Dr Birbal Genani, senior director, health and medical services of the KMC, while talking to The News on Monday.

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