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July 27, 2019

Surge in Congo fever cases feared as one more patient admitted to JPMC


July 27, 2019

Health authorities at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) said on Friday they had received a young man from Quetta, Balochistan, who tested positive for Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and was being treated at an isolation ward in the health facility.

“Ashraf Khan, a resident of Quetta, Balochistan, was brought to the JPMC Emergency Department with high-grade fever and bleeding from the nose this morning. The patient tested positive for Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever and was admitted to an isolation ward. His condition is stable at the moment,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, the executive director of the JPMC, while talking to The News.

As many as five persons, including a woman, have died due to the Congo fever in Karachi this year, with three losing their lives in the month of June, officials said 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.

Dr Jamali said that due to the Eid-ul-Azha, human interaction with cattle and sacrificial animals increases and a surge of Congo cases is seen all over the country. She added that as most of the small sacrificial animals come from Balochistan and Afghanistan, a large number of CCHF cases are reported from Balochistan.

Last month, three people, two men and a woman, died due to the Congo fever in Karachi, all three at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH). With these deaths, the number of deaths due to the lethal, tick-borne disease had reached five, Sindh Health Department told The News.

Health department officials said that nine CCHF positive patients had been brought to Karachi’s public and private hospitals, of whom 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 official said.

Surge in cases feared

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

“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 Rizvi, 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. 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 from visiting 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 animals

In order to prevent spread of CCHF in Karachi and save precious lives, the health department of the 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 the cattle markets and entry points.

“I have written a letter to the veterinary department of the KMC for the 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.

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