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August 17, 2019

Congo fever death toll rises to 10 in Karachi as another patient dies

Karachi

August 17, 2019

A 70-year-old man from District Naushehro Feroz died due to Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) at a private hospital in Karachi a couple of days back, while a 25-year-old patient is battling for life at another private hospital of the city, health officials said on Friday.

“Ghulam Ali, 70, a resident of District Naushehro Feroz, Sindh died at Liaquat National Hospital Karachi within four hours of his arrival at the private hospital due to complications of Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) on August 13, 2019,” an official of the Sindh health department told The News.

The official maintained that with the death of the elderly man, the number of deaths due to the deadly tick-borne disease had risen to 10 in the current year so far. He added that four of the deaths occurred in the first two weeks of August 2019 due to increased interaction between humans and cattle on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha.

Officials said another person, aged 25 and identified as Shoaib Ahmed, a resident of North Nazimabad, was battling for life at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, after he tested positive for the fever.

They said the young man had visited the cattle market on a number of occasions prior to Eid-ul-Azha for buying a cow and might have contracted the disease after coming into contact with an animal having deadly ticks attached to its body.

“The patient was admitted to the health facility on August 14 and he has been undergoing treatment for the deadly viral disease at the moment,” the officials said. Health department officials maintained that so far 18 patients had tested positive for CCHF in Karachi, of whom 10 succumbed to the complications of the disease while eight managed to

survive.

Experts say CCHF is a lethal viral infection that is transmitted to humans from animals, especially cattle and livestock. Patients are kept in isolation wards to prevent other patients, doctors and paramedics from contracting the viral infection. Mortality is around 40 percent, especially when patients are brought late to tertiary-care health facilities.

Three persons -- a 15-year-old boy from the Malir area of Karachi, Faiz-ul-Islam, Zahid Saeed, a 29-year-old resident of Organi Town, and a 68-year-oldperson, Haji Din Muhammad -- had died back to back in Karachi last week due to CCHF after their interaction with sacrificial animals on the eve of Eid-ul Azha.

Action taken so far

Officials of the health department said they had established a surveillance system and isolation wards at all tertiary hospitals and district level, and they were also providing health awareness about personal protective equipment, Ribavirin and other medication to clinicians.

“Capacity-building of healthcare workers in terms of surveillance, diagnosis and case management is also being done while we are conducting health education campaigns and media campaigns in Karachi and other parts of Sindh,” an official of the department said, adding that they had distributed infection prevention and control material to slaughter houses.

The health department officials further said illegal slaughter houses might be shut down by public health officials to prevent workers from contracting the lethal disease.

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