Re-Emergence of Congo Virus in Pakistan

Re-Emergence of Congo Virus in Pakistan

Besides wrecking the economy to a halt, the COVID-19 has already taken the country towards the bottom line with more than 5000 fatalities and 250000 plus confirmed cases.

Though we have not been able to restraint the spread to the core, the country is all set to a threat of re-emergence of the Congo virus.

An advisory issued by the NIH Islamabad, predicts that the occasion of Eid -ul-Adha might become a reason to spread the Congo virus again in the country. As the dominant cause of the virus is human-animal interaction, the sacrificial movement of animals during Eid-ul-Adha can raise the spread.

Background

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is a zoonotic disease (an animal disease that can spread from an animal to a human) caused by Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus (CCHFV).

Transmission

The virus maintains its transmission cycle through a tick-vertebrate. Its primary vectors are wild animals and livestock. Humans can become infected with the virus when an infected tick bites them or when they become in contact with infected animal blood or body fluids. 

Human to human transmission can occur due to

  • Close contact with blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person
  • Improper sanitization of medical equipment
  • Reuse of needles

Incubation Period

The incubation period following a tick bite is usually from one to three days (maximum 9 days). Following contact with infected blood, the incubation period is usually from 5 to 6 days (maximum 15 days). 

Signs And Symptoms

  • sudden high fever
  • muscle, abdominal, back, and joint pain
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • sore throat and eyes
  • red spots on the palate
  • sensitivity to light
  • aggression and mood swings
  • bruising, bleeding gums, nosebleed, blood in the urine, and feces

Precautions

While visiting the cattle markets

  • Wear light-colored clothes with full sleeves and long pants
  • Tuck your pants in your socks
  • Spray approved chemicals on clothes to kill ticks
  • Apply approved repellent on the skin, re-apply according to the labeled instructions
  • Closely examine your clothes and skin for ticks, after visiting the cattle market, if found any, remove safely

During Slaughter

  • Treat animals with pesticides two weeks before the slaughter
  • Wear gloves and protective clothing during slaughtering, and culling
  • Discard the gloves and protective suit
  • Take a bath, change your clothes after completing the slaughter procedure

While taking care of a CCHF patient

  • Avoid physical contact
  • Wear gloves and protective equipment
  • Wash your hands regularly

 

Treatment and Fatality Rate

CCHF is a high priority zoonotic pathogens of humans. Due to the absence of any specific treatment or vaccine, has the potential to cause a public health emergency.

The fatality rates are higher, ranging from 10-40% depending upon the circumstances. However, in Pakistan, the rate was 37.5% in 2013.

By November 2019, only Karachi reported 20 fatalities by the deadly Congo virus.

The main ground of the higher fatality rates in Pakistan is the lack of basic knowledge about this lethal virus. To ensure public safety, the government should run public awareness programs along with the implementation of laws and safety measures in cattle markets. 

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