LAHORE: Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), simply known as Congo virus, is a tick-borne viral infection which can be fatal and has been reported in about 30 countries around the globe.

“Human beings can become infected after being bitten by tick or become exposed to body fluids of a patient with CCHF during the acute phase of infection, or by contact with blood or tissues from viraemic livestock,” said Dr Aun Raza, who is Senior Instructor Infectious Diseases at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.

The lack of care and reasonable facilities to accommodate quality care for livestock animals is one of the main reasons for the extensive spread of Congo virus which is further aggravated by lack of proper education.

Animals, especially sacrificial animals, which are imported from other countries and upper parts of Pakistan for Eidul Azha, should also be subjected to screening.

In a press release, Dr Raza urged people to be careful while buying the sacrificial animals.

He added that the common symptoms of this potentially fatal viral infection include high fever, throat ache, vomiting, and diarrhea with a few also exhibiting hemorrhage signs. Mood swings and inability to focus on surroundings may also be experienced.

“The disease needs to be diagnosed at an early stage in order to be managed effectively,” Dr Raza stressed.

“The condition can be diagnosed by enzyme-linked immunoassay and real-time reverse transcriptase PCR. Early diagnosis and treatment can save lives and can also prevent potential nosocomial infections.

“Treatment is mainly supportive and includes fluid and electrolyte balance and hemodynamic support. Anti-viral therapy should be commenced as part of treatment once the infection is confirmed,” he added.

In order to reduce the risk of tick-to-human transmission, it is advisable to wear protective, light colored clothing to allow easy visibility of the ticks, he suggested.

Approved acaricides and repellents should be used (chemicals intended to kill ticks) on clothing. Animal caregivers should seek measures to controland possibly eliminate tick infestations on animals, in stables and in barns.

Mooting measures

A Turkish team of veterinary experts visited the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) and discussed steps to control Congo virus with the varsity experts.

The Turkish side included Dr Ebru Ary and Dr Dilek Meneminilogo while Pakistani team comprised UVAS VC Prof Dr Talat Naseer Pasha, Prof Dr Masood Rabbani, Prof Dr Kamran Ashraf, Prof Dr Tahir Yaqub and others.

The UVAS experts told the Turkish delegation that the Congo virus is spreading from ticks of animals. They said that as there is a free and uncontrolled movement of livestock (both small and large animals) from one place to another and from one province to another, so the virus is spreading at various places.  They shared the measures to cope with the challenge.–Staff Reporter