ISLAMABAD-National Institute of Health on Tuesday issued an advisory to alert healthcare authorities for ensuring timely steps for prevention and control of Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha.

According to the NIH, the objective of the advisory is to sensitize healthcare departments to further strengthen and improve the level of preparedness in prevention and control of the CCHF.

It said that the extensive movement of sacrificial animals ahead of Eid-ul-Azha significantly enhanced the risk of CCHF disease transmission due to increased human-animal interaction.

The advisory, which was issued by the NIH’s Field Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Division, said that the CCHF was a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus with a case fatality rate of 10-40%.

It said that the CCHF virus transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter. It said that public health workers along with animal herders, veterinarians, veterinary staff, livestock workers, animal merchants, butchers and slaughterhouse workers are at risk of the disease.

There is currently no vaccine available for humans and the only way to reduce infection is by raising awareness.

The advisory said that public health advice should focus on several aspects including wear protective clothing (long sleeves, long trousers), wear light coloured clothing during visit to animal market to allow easy detection of ticks on the clothes and regularly examine clothing and skin for ticks and if found, remove them safely and use approved repellents on clothing and skin.

Similarly, citizens were asked not to crush the ticks, wear gloves and other protective clothing while handling animals or their tissues, notably during slaughtering, butchering and culling procedures in slaughterhouses or at home.

They have also been asked to avoid close physical contact with CCHF-infected people, wear gloves and protective equipment when taking care of ill people, wash hands frequently after caring or visiting ill people and insect repellents are the most effective in warding off ticks in human populations.

It said that safe burial practices included spraying the dead body with liquid bleach solution and then wrapping in winding sheet.

The winding sheet should be sprayed with bleach solution, then the body should be placed in a plastic bag, which should be sealed with adhesive tape and disinfect the transport vehicle and burn all clothing of the deceased.

It said that physicians should exercise high degree of suspension while examining patients with likely symptoms. While requesting lab testing maximum clinical information must be provided especially dates of onset of symptoms and sample collection.

It said that lab test for CCHF should be recommended to those who fulfil criteria of suspected case definition.

It added samples from suspected case should be collected by trained phlebotomist with full preventive measures using appropriate personal protective equipment.