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August 23, 2019

Congo virus claims eighth life in August

Karachi

August 23, 2019

Another man died due to the complications of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) at a private hospital in Karachi while an elderly woman from Quetta was admitted to another private hospital in the city for the treatment of the tick-borne viral disease, health officials said on Thursday.

“Mohammad Kafeel, 32, a resident of the Korangi area of Karachi, was brought to the Ziauddin Hospital, North Nazimabad, on Wednesday night on complaints of internal and external bleeding, headache and other symptoms. He died during treatment at the hospital within hours of his admission,” said an official of the Sindh health department.

So far, eight people have lost their lives in Karachi in the current month due to CCHF, also commonly known as Congo virus, officials said, adding that at least 14 people have died in the city in the ongoing year because of the disease.

As ticks that carry the virus live on cattle, the number of cases of Congo virus surged in the current month owing to the presence of thousands of sacrificial animals in the city before Eidul Azha.

Patients of CCHF 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 and chances of survival are low when patients are brought late to tertiary-care health facilities.

Health department officials said Kafeel used to collect hides of sacrificial animals after Eidul Azha and he probably contracted the disease from some tick attached to one of the hides he collected.

“The patient had a history of fever of four days. He developed bleeding in his stool and vomiting the next day. When his condition worsened, he was admitted to Ziauddin Hospital on August 21, 2019 with the platelet count of 7,000. The patient expired the same night. His Congo PCR positive report was received after his expiry,” an official said.

Meanwhile, a 54-year old woman from Quetta, identified as Zulhija Ammer Shah, was brought to the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, who tested positive for the CCHF and was under treatment at an isolation ward at the health facility.

According to health officials, at least 26 people have tested positive for CCHF in Karachi this year, of whom 14 died, including eight in the current month. However, doctors at public and private hospitals say the number of CCHF patients could be much higher as many of the patients were not brought to health facilities that report the disease to the health department.

Among the hospitals in Karachi, only the AKUH has the facility to diagnose CCHF while some hospitals send the samples of the suspected patients to the National Institute of Health (NIH) for analysis.

Before the recent death, three deaths due to CCHF occurred between last Saturday and Monday. On Monday, a 24-year-old youth, Sabir, passed away at the Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi due to complications of Congo virus. According to Dr Azizullah Dhiloo, an expert of infectious diseases at the CHK, he was brought to the hospital in critical state and died within a few hours after his arrival.

Dr Dhiloo explained that the deceased was a cattle farm worker and he died during treatment at the emergency department before he could be moved to an isolation ward. On Sunday night, a young cattle farmer from Thatta, Hammal Jummo, was brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre who had all the symptoms of Congo virus. He died during treatment within half an hour of his arrival at the hospital’s emergency department.

JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali said he was bleeding from multiple body parts and gasping for air when he arrived at the health facility. All his symptoms indicated that he was infected with lethal Congo virus, she explained. On Saturday, a 45-year old man, Syed Asad Ali Rizvi, died of CCHF at the Indus Hospital, Karachi.

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