Apprehensive for Eid: Rising cases of Congo fever concern WHO

Health officials claim rising sale of sacrificial animals may augment outbreak.

Sehrish Wasif September 23, 2014

ISLAMABAD: In view of the surge in the number of Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) cases being reported in the country this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has termed the situation alarming and worrisome.

A total of 44 cases of CCHF have been confirmed in the country with 28 deaths in total, two  of them from Islamabad, till September this year. Last year, 47 cases were reported throughout the country, according to the Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin jointly complied by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination and WHO.

Talking to The Express Tribune, WHO Senior Surveillance Officer Dr Musa Rahim said the increase in the number of CCHF cases is worrisome and the situation has become challenging.

He said there is a need to take extra precautionary measures on a war footing to control the situation before it gets worse.

“Eidul Azha is just two weeks away, therefore there is a need to restrict the movement of sacrificial animals within the cities to avoid direct exposure of residents with the infected animals and educate people about taking precautionary measures while buying livestock,” he said.

On the other hand, a senior official in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) who requested anonymity said after three confirmed cases of CCHF reported recently in the public hospitals of Rawalpindi district, all-out efforts are under way to control its transmission in the capital.

However, the best possible way to control its spread is to restrict the movement of sacrificial animals in the capital, especially from Rawalpindi, he added.

“Though the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration has been asked to restrict the movement of sacrificial animals within the capital by not letting them to set cattle markets within the city, so far the protocol is being violated openly,” claimed the official.

The official said that a site for a temporary cattle market for Eidul Azha near the Fruit and Vegetable Market of Sector I-11 has been allocated by the municipal administration but many ‘mini’ cattle markets have been witnessed in the city and suburbs.

“By letting sacrificial animals to move around the residential areas it is just like welcoming the virus to spread within the community at its free will,” said the official.

Every year, a huge market of sacrificial animals is set at Murree Road near Mal Pur but no one takes action against it, said the official.

The Express Tribune tried to contact Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Mujahid Sher Dil but he could not be reached.

Meanwhile, Dr Hassan Urooj, the health directorate chief at CDA, said a high-alert has been issued in the capital and all hospitals are preparing to tackle any adverse scenario vis-à-vis the virus spread.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2014.


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