LAHORE - The Health Department has sent an alert over danger of Congo-Crimean Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) outbreak just over a week ahead of Eidul Azha.

The authorities have asked all quarters concerned to take measures to prevent the deadly disease when large scale movement of sacrificial animals has already taken place with no mechanism to stop entry of infected animals in populated areas.

Not just traders but hundreds of thousands of buyers are equally at risk from infected animals, if any, in the markets.

CCHF is viral disease transmitted by ticks found on the skin of animals like sheep and cow. It can infect people handling animals, buyers and medical professionals treating the infected patients.

The department has directed measures like limestone marking, spray, treatment of affected animals at cattle markets, slaughterhouses, dairy/gawala colonies, sale yards and other animal gathering places. Recommended tick repellent spray should be carried out in and around the designated sale points/cattle markets.

The services of the District Livestock officers and veterinary staff should be fully utilised for avoiding spread of this disease. Public health experts advise the butchers, animal handlers to take precautionary measures while disposing of blood and other secretions of animals to avoid direct contact.

All the autonomous medical institutions, medical superintendents of government hospitals and EDOs health have been asked to take necessary steps for the protection of medical professionals during the treatment of patients. They have been asked to maintain sufficient stock of medicines used in the treatment of patients.

Experts said the infection’s fatality rate was up to 50 per cent. In certain cases, infections are common after exposure to infected blood and secretions.

The disease is indigenous in many African, European and Asian countries. CCHF is prevalent in Pakistan with periodic outbreaks. It rises dramatically since 2000 with 50-60 cases being reported annually.

Virus transmits to humans by the bite of a Hyaloma tick, usually from infected sheep or cows, exposure to blood or tissue of the infected animal during slaughtering and direct contact with blood or secretions of an infected person.

Domestic animals are the usual hosts for the adult ticks in the country. Incubation period is usually 1-3 days after a tick bite and 5–6 days after exposure to infected blood or tissues with a documented maximum of 13 days.

After infection, illness begins abruptly, with fever, muscles aches, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, sore eyes and photophobia. Some patients may present with diarrhea with blood and mucus and abdominal pain. Patients may experience mood swings, confusion and aggression.

More severe symptoms include bleeding from nose, gums, IV sites and PV bleeding in female patients.