Tuesday November 29, 2022

People need not panic

July 09, 2022

Islamabad : Millions of animals being brought to main cities from different parts of the country may cause certain infections including Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) but people need not to panic instead they should adopt preventive measures religiously to avoid any health threat.

Despite the threat, there is no precedent of an outbreak ever occurring in any part of the country associated with slaughtering of sacrificial animals but still gloves should be used while slaughtering sacrificial animals and children should not be allowed to play with animals particularly when they are unclean. Animals should be sprayed or washed with deet insecticide before taking home.

Epidemiologist Dr. Muhammad Najeeb Durrani who is Member Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network (GOARN) expressed this while talking to ‘The News’ on state of panic in a certain section of society about diseases including the deadly CCHF that animals may cause to humans.

Studies reveal that CCHF, the tick-borne viral infection kills 30-40 per cent of the infected individuals. The CCHF is caused by Nairovirus of the Bunyaviridae family transmitted to humans by the bite of Hyalomma tick that is mostly found on the skin of animals including goat, sheep and cattle. The CCHF is also caused by direct contact with the blood of an infected animal or human. Exposure to blood or tissue of the infected animal during or post slaughtering and direct contact with blood or secretions of infected person may also cause transmission. The case fatality rate of the deadly infection ranges from 2% to 50%. The CCHF was first described in Crimea in 1944 and identified in 1956 in Congo.

According to Dr. Durrani, community must be vigilant about appearance of the disease and should keep an eye on suspected patients that are usually the people living in close contact of infected animals and getting sudden onset of fever with or without bleeding from gums or nose or getting spontaneous purple coloured haemorrhagic bruises on the skin. In that case, there is a need to immediately hospitalize these patients.

He added that Congo Fever is caused when an infected tick containing the virus bites an animal that is usually goat, sheep or cattle. The animal then gets infected by developing fever and the virus starts circulating in the blood of that animal.

He said the most deadly feature is that when a person gets infected by touching blood of an infected animal or close contact of the animal because it results into human to human transmission. Any person that may be patient’s attendant or health care provider gets the virus inadvertently mostly from the hands of patient through secretions, blood or vomitus and takes to ingest by touching his own mouth, eyes or nose, said Dr. Durrani.

He said the disease is endemic in Balochistan in regions having borders with Afghanistan like Loralai, Qila Abdullah, Chaman and Zhob while its cases are also being reported from Karachi, Mirpur, AJK, Peshawar, Multan and Attock. The CCHF, however, has an infrequent incidental appearance and it can appear anytime anywhere.

Most at risk are animal handlers and the health care providers. Health departments and hospitals must create awareness amongst its employees, particularly the health care providers to know the importance of barrier nursing and biosafety protocols to avoid spread of the infection, he said.

He said people must take extraordinary care while handling with sacrificial animals whether at market or at home. People should not buy unhealthy sacrificial animals or animals with any type of ticks on the skin. People should remain at a distance of one metre from the sacrificial animals to avoid infection and children should not be allowed to hug an animal particularly if it is found sick or having ticks, concluded Dr. Durrani.