Tick-borne Congo virus claims 19 lives in Pakistan

Karachi, Aug 21 (IANS) With the deadly tick-borne Congo virus having claimed 19 lives, hospitals in Pakistan’s financial capital of Karachi have set up isolation wards as part of preventive measures to deal with the disease.

In Quetta, the capital city of the neighbouring Balochistan province, a woman died of Congo virus on Saturday, taking the toll to 19.

Isolation wards have been set up at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Civil Hospital and Jinnah Hospital following the death of a patient at Jinnah Hospital on Friday.

Doctors and paramedical staff who attended to the patient are being kept under observation and monitored for possible signs of the virus.

Senior Health Services Director Muhammad Ali Abbasi said an isolation ward containing 40 beds has been set up at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. He said that doctors and hospital staff have been issued instructions to protect themselves against the virus, Geo News reported.

Balochistan’s Department of Veterinary Affairs in a bid to counter the virus is spraying cattle with the help from Quetta administration.

Spraying is underway at cattle markets in Peshawar too ahead of Eid-ul-Azha as part of precautionary measures against the virus.

Animals being brought to the cattle markets are also being inspected for the virus.

Jinnah Hospital Deputy Director Javed Jamali suggested that bathing sacrificial animals in chlorine-mixed water removes the ticks.

The latest death from the Congo virus, of a woman named Fatima Bibi, took place at Quetta’s Fatimah Jinnah TB sanatorium hospital late on Saturday. She was brought to Quetta from Kandahar city of Afghanistan.

Fatima Bibi’s blood samples were confirmed to be affected by the virus.

Twelve people have died of the virus in Balochistan this year, five in Karachi and two in Bahawalpur.

With Eid-ul-Azha near, health experts have advised people to take special preventive measures to avoid contracting the virus.

These include basic hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, wearing protective clothing like long sleeves or long trousers and wearing light coloured clothing to allow easy detection of ticks on the clothes.

The Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever or Congo virus is a widespread viral disease that is commonly spread by ticks found on hairy and furry animals.

–IANS

ss/rn/vt

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