With Eidul Azha just around the corner, reports of a Congo virus infection have surfaced in Balochistan. there are fears of an outbreak of Congo virus. The fear especially stems from two cases of Congo virus already reported in some part of Balochistan.
A suspected Congo virus patient brought to Quetta’s Fatima Jinnah Chest Hospital passed away on Saturday, while another believed to be suffering from the disease was admitted. The patient belonging to Loralai district was admitted to the hospital on Thursday bleeding from mouth and nose and with high fever.
A blood sample of the patient had been dispatched to Karachi for diagnosis but he did not survive and died before the results were concluded. Another patient from Pishin district suffering from the same symptoms was brought to Fatima Jinnah Chest Hospital and had been diagnosed with Congo virus,
the Head of the Congo ward said. In the last four months, 25 patients suspected of having Congo fever have been brought to the hospital from different areas of the province and 12 of them have been confirmed as suffering from the disease after diagnosis. In recent years,
the Congo virus has hit Balochistan on the occasion of Eidul Azha, as most of the affected patients had been engaged in the business of herding. In Quetta alone, thousands of beasts have already arrived, while many more are on their way as the festival draws closer. It is imperative that Balochistan government and concern authorities remain on their toes as with the presence of such large numbers of livestock close to the population centres,
the risk of diseases such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is reasonably high. All sacrificial animals entering markets should be screened. As WHO recommends, chemicals should be sprayed to kill the ticks that carry the virus, while beasts found to be infected must be quarantined.
Also, those who deal with livestock should wear protective clothing and use repellent on their skin and clothes. In fact, the authorities should carry out a public information campaign via the media until Eid to communicate preventive measures to livestock traders and those who work at cattle markets.
There have also been calls for the enhancement of biosafety measures at hospitals while some experts say that to control the spread of CCHF, the focus of preventive efforts should be on the villages where livestock originates.
There should also be inter-provincial coordination, as livestock traders often cross provincial borders on the way to market. Moreover, livestock markets should be limited to designated areas; municipal authorities must remove illegal cattle pens that spring up inside cities and towns in the run-up to Eidul Azha.
In the past, , governments have been taking preemptive measures to stop the spread of the virus including spraying in cattle markets. While the number of deaths has been increasing over the years,
there is still extremely limited awareness about the disease and in smaller towns hospital staff may be ill-equipped to deal with it. Education for medical practitioners is then also necessary as is a campaign to encourage people who believe they may be infected to report symptoms swiftly and visit a doctor.
We need to control Congo Fever, a relatively new arrival in our province. Congo Fever does not claim lives is therefore important ahead of Eidul Azha, when many people who do not normally do so will be interacting closely with cattle kept at home.
The number of deaths so far has already been disturbing. There must be steps taken to prevent any more. The Incumbent Balochistan government has yet to take any serious measures to counter the disease.