By Asad Zia Published: July 13, 2014
PESHAWAR: Cases of the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) continue to pile up at Hayatabad Medical Complex as three more suspected cases were brought in on Friday, of whom one died on Saturday.
Fifty-seven-year-old Ali Khan was brought to the hospital from Peshawar, while Abdul Hameed and a female patient, Shukria, were brought in from Afghanistan on Friday. Hameed died the next day.
According to data compiled by the hospital, this is the fifth life the virus has claimed this year.
HMC Spokesperson on Infectious Diseases, Dr Wali Rehman said blood samples of all three patients have been sent to the National Institute of Health, Islamabad.
“We cannot confirm that the two remaining patients have the virus until we get the test results back, however, they have the symptoms of Congo fever,” said Rehman.
It takes 10 to 15 days for the results of the blood test to come back, he added.
Rehman further said HMC’s private rooms 15 to 19 have been declared isolation units for Congo patients and any individual brought in the casualty department with the symptoms will be directly admitted to the isolation ward.
As per the hospital data, 11 Congo virus patients, including six from Afghanistan and one staffer, have been brought to HMC. Of these 11, five have died.
Incidentally, the hospital list available with The Express Tribune does not have the name of an HMC nurse, Riffat Bibi, who is also suspected to be infected and is admitted to the hospital.
Given the contagious nature of Congo virus, HMC Chief Executive Dr Mumtaz Ali Marwat has issued directives to all staffers to wear protective masks and gloves while handling all infected patients.
There are no specialised wards, doctors or medicines available at the hospital for Congo cases, thus the available medical personnel are seeing to the patients and administering them the available medicines.
Since the neighbouring war-torn country lacks proper health facilities, a majority of Afghan patients come to HMC, Peshawar for treatment as it is the nearest tertiary care hospital.
Last year, six patients who tested positive for the Congo virus were admitted to the HMC. Two were from Afghanistan, two from Khyber Agency and one each from Waziristan and Wazir Bagh, Peshawar.
According to the World Health Organization, CCHF is primarily transmitted to people from ticks and livestock. Humans can catch the virus from other humans if they come in close contact with the infected person’s blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids.
A study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology in July 2012 states, “Vector-borne diseases (such as Congo or dengue fever) in people, as well as livestock, are common in K-P and Fata due to the limited use of vector control measures and access to livestock vaccines.”
“CCHF outbreaks typically occur following the migrations of nomadic people and livestock to district centres where they bring animals to sell and slaughter,” the study adds.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2014.