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August 20, 2019

Three more fall prey to Congo virus


August 20, 2019

Three more deaths have been reported in Karachi due to Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), commonly known as Congo virus, at various hospitals in the city, which has raised the city’s 2019 death toll of the disease to 13.

The most recent death occurred at the Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) on Monday. The other deaths took place at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JMPC) and the Indus Hospital on Sunday night and Saturday respectively.

“Shabir, 24, son of Imam Bux, was brought to the emergency department of Civil Hospital Karachi today [Monday] in critical condition with bleeding from nose and mouth as well as other symptoms of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever. He died within a couple of hours upon arrival due to multiple organ failure,” said Dr Azizullah Dhiloo, an infectious diseases’ expert at the CHK.

Dr Dhiloo explained that the deceased was a cattle farm worker whose health had severely deteriorated when he was shifted to the hospital and he died during treatment at the emergency department before he could be moved to the isolation ward.

The CCHF is a lethal viral infection that is transmitted to human beings from animals, especially cattle and livestock, by ticks that live on the cattle. Patients are kept in isolation wards to prevent other patients, doctors and paramedics from contracting the viral infection. The mortality rate of the disease is around 40 per cent. One of the reasons for the high mortality rate is that many patients are brought late to the tertiary-care health facilities.

Dr Dhiloo said a patient, Nawab Ali, resident of the Khamiso Goth area of New Karachi, had been undergoing treatment at the isolation ward of the CHK and his symptoms were those of the CCHF but they were awaiting his laboratory test results to confirm the disease.

At the JPMC, a young cattle farmer from Thatta was brought having all the symptoms of Congo virus. He died during treatment within half an hour of his arrival at the hospital’s emergency department. “Hammal Jummo, 24, a resident of Thatta and cattle farmer by profession, was brought to the JPMC emergency who was bleeding from multiple sites and gasping for air. All his symptoms indicated that he was infected with lethal Congo virus,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, the JPMC executive director.

“Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever was the provisional diagnosis [as] all the symptoms were positive. He was brought very late all the way from Thatta,” Dr Jamali explained. She said the CCHF had become endemic in Karachi and the rest of Sindh and called for adopting urgent measures to prevent the spread of virus.

The Sindh health department authorities confirmed that a 45-year old man, Syed Asad Ali Rizvi, had died at the Indus Hospital Karachi due to Congo virus on Saturday. The said he died within a few hours after his arrival at the health facility and added that they had no further details of him.

Health officials said so far 27 patients have tested positive for the CCHF in Sindh, of whom 13 died while two are still undergoing treatment at the Ziauddin Hospital in North Nazimabad and the CHK.

Youth dies of dengue

In the meantime, a 20-year-old man died due to complications of dengue haemorrhagic fever at a private hospital in Karachi, raising the total number of deaths due to dengue fever in 2019 to five, health officials said.

“Talha Khalid, a resident of District West Karachi, was taken to Aga Khan University Hospital on complaints of shock and liver failure. Medical examinations confirmed that he had been infected with dengue virus and died during treatment,” said an official of the Sindh Dengue Control Programme, adding that so far five people have died in 2019 due to the mosquito-borne viral disease in the city.

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