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Congo fever Eid warning




  • Two patients suffering from Congo fever lost the battle for life at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital on Wednesday, according to a report by this paper’s health correspondent. Both father and son succumbed to the disease, thought to have been acquired as a result of risks associated with their profession as butchers. The victims and two other family members, were admitted to PIMS for treatment for the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus.
    Known to be transmitted by ticks feeding on infected animals, the risk of the incidence of the disease is increasing due to the rush in animal trading, in preparation of the religious festival of Eid-ul-Azha. The Punjab Health Department (PHD) has issued a timely warning, but without an immediate and aggressive public awareness campaign, the simple instructions for prevention may not reach enough people on time. There is also no indication of whether other provinces are required to be on a similar state of high alert; and if not, what surety is there that animal herds will not be crossing provincial boundaries in search of market.
    The ticks acts as a vector of transport, and can be transmitted by simple skin-to-skin contact.  Regular inspections of animals by veterinary doctors are rare, if not unheard of, and as a result shephards, traders and butchers coming in contact with infected livestock are at high risk of contracting the fever. With large multitudes of people expected to visit markets to purchase sacrificial animals for Eid, the risk of the fever claiming more victims is acute.
    It is a sad testament to national priorities that the proportion of the budget delegated for health is not even a tenth of the amount apportioned for defence. With whatever meagre resources we have, it is still possible to alert people to the risk of Congo fever posed by being in contact with livestock in the run-up to Eid. An ounce of prevention may be better suited to our circumstances than a pound of cure.

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