Congo virus threat

The virus spreads through tick bites or contact with infected animal blood and tissues

Editorial May 30, 2024


With Eidul Azha approaching, the recent death of an animal dealer from Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) at the Khyber Teaching Hospital is a looming health risk. The dealer, who had visited Punjab for cattle trading, developed a fever upon his return and, despite treatment, succumbed to the disease.

CCHF poses a significant threat in regions with high livestock activity. Historically, the CCHF cases spike in June and July when cattle markets are bustling with activity in preparation for Eidul Azha. The virus spreads through tick bites or contact with infected animal blood and tissues, making these crowded markets hotspots for transmission. The fact that this tragic death occurred well before the peak trading period is alarming. One critical area of concern is the apparent disregard for health department directives by district headquarters hospitals. Despite clear instructions to send samples from suspected CCHF cases to the Public Health Reference Lab at Khyber Medical University for free testing, compliance has been lacking. This negligence hinders early detection and rapid response, which are crucial for controlling the spread of the virus. To address this issue, it is imperative for the health department to enforce strict adherence to testing protocols. Hospitals must be held accountable for not following guidelines, and any lapses should be swiftly rectified. Additionally, a comprehensive public awareness campaign is needed to educate livestock traders, healthcare providers and the general public about the dangers of CCHF and the importance of early detection and precautionary measures.

Enhanced surveillance and response strategies are essential as we approach the Festival of Sacrifice. This includes rigorous monitoring of cattle markets, implementing effective vector control measures to reduce tick populations and ensuring that healthcare facilities are adequately prepared to manage CCHF cases.


Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2024.

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