Tick-borne virus: Health director fails to confirm two Congo deaths

Majid, Fatima were admitted at two separate hospitals and died a week after receiving treatment.

Our Correspondent November 27, 2014

KARACHI: This year's first Congo death was reported a few weeks before Eidul Azha, since then the numbers have steadily increased to six, with two cases being reported this week.

The director of the health department, Dr Zafar Ijaz, however, did not confirm the death of the last two patients.

While talking to The Express Tribune, he said that he could not confirm if two people had died or not. He added that he was waiting for official reports before issuing a statement. He claimed that once he had details from the hospitals where the patients had been admitted, Aga Khan University Hospital and Civil Hospital, Karachi, he will share the information with the media.

Increasing death toll

"Two more people lost their lives to the deadly Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever," said Dr Saqib Ansari, a consultant and hematologist at the National Institute of Blood Diseases who received the blood samples. These two cases show just how much the government had been neglecting the problem, he added.

Congo was still a threat as people did not have enough awareness about the virus and the health department had been negligent, said Dr Ansari, adding that, unfortunately, the government hospitals have no isolation ward or nurses who know how to treat patients suffering from the deadly virus. He added that it was possible to cure the patient if they were diagnosed in the early stages.

The latest cases emerged in Korangi. Abdul Majid, 40, and 55-year-old Naureen Fatima were admitted at two separate hospitals and died a week after receiving treatment for the virus. Majid, it is claimed, probably caught the virus from his neighbour's livestock. No one, however, knows how or when Fatima was infected.

According to Ansari, humans can contract the Congo virus from animals as it is a tick-borne fever. He said that symptoms include muscle pain, dizziness and fever.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2014.


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