PESHAWAR/QUETTA - A total of 20 people died because of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in the country this year including 12 patients from Balochistan, five from Karachi while five suspected patients were registered in Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar.

The latest victim, a woman, died of the virus at Fatima Jinnah TB Sanatorium Hospital in Quetta who was brought from Afghanistan for medical treatment.

As people have started visiting cattle markets ahead of Eidul Azha for search of sacrificial animals, health experts said that due to lack of precautionary measures the virus could spread throughout the country and it may infect more people in the upcoming days.

According to the data around 12 people so far died from Congo virus in Balochistan, five were from Karachi, two from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two from Bahawalpur this year.

According to the report of Hayatabad Medical Complex Peshawar from January to August 2016, the hospital received five suspected patients of Congo virus out of which three patients were tested positive while two patients were tested negative.

The report said that two of the patients died as one patient was from Afghanistan, one from Khyber Agency while three patients were from Bannu.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department has already sent directives to all the Medical Teaching Intuition (MTI) and all the Districts Headquarter Hospitals (DHOs) and the concerned District Coordination Officers (DCOs) to take tangible steps for the eradication of Congo virus in their concerned districts and hospitals.

An official of the health department said that health department has already issued notification to the concerned officials to take practical steps regarding Congo virus.

He further said that the department also directed the concerned hospitals and its medical directors to established isolated ward for Congo patients in the hospitals, adding that the mortality ratio of Congo in the country is from 35 to 50 per cent.

He informed that the concerned DCOs of the province have been directed to visit cattle markets and constitute a committee which will ensure the vaccination of animals as well as ensure the farmers to inform them about the precautionary measure from Congo virus.

He also added that all the concerned hospitals and its staff and the district administration were directed to make SOPs regarding Congo virus as well as ensure the health staff training regarding the Congo virus.

He said that already health department also published some public messages and placards inscribed and written precautionary measures regarding Congo virus and it will be distributed in public places and cattle markets for awareness.

Hayatabad Medical Complex Isolation Ward In-charge Dr Imran told The Nation that Congo fever is caused by bite of an infected tick. “When an infected tick bites an animal, usually a goat or sheep, the animal gets infected by developing fever.”

He further said that the virus is circulating in blood of the infected animal; any person who slaughtering it can get infection. He informed that as most of the patients of Congo disease were brought from Afghanistan as special measure are also needed to established vaccination center for Animals when crossing the border.

He pointed out that special precautionary measures should be taken by the health experts while dealing with Congo Patients as well as people who are dealing or buying sacrificial animals.

The woman died in Quetta on Sunday was brought from Afghanistan. The hospital sources said that Fatima Bibi, a patient suffering from Congo virus was brought at the sanatorium from Afghanistan three days back who died on Sunday.

“Fatima died of excessive bleeding due to Congo virus which caused her death”, said, Dr Mukhtar, a senior doctor at Quetta’s Fatima Jinnah TB Sanatorium Hospital.

He said that total of 84 patients on a suspicion of suffering from Congo virus were brought at the hospital.

“We sent blood samples of the patients to Agha Khan Hospital Laboratory in Karachi and 22 of 84 were confirmed to be infected with Congo virus,” he said. “Nine of 22 patients including Fatima Bibi have died of the disease this year”.

Dr Mukhtar said that most of patients brought at Fatima Jinnah TB Sanatorium belonged to Afghanistan. He, however, said that locally Congo virus has also been reported in different districts of Balochistan including Quetta this year.

Dr. Abbas Notkani, Chief Medical Officer at Fatima Jinnah TB Sanatorium said that three patients including Fatima Bibi and Habib were under treatment at the hospital.

Habib was also brought from Afghanistan. He said that blood samples of third patient had been sent to Agha Khan Hospital Laboratory for diagnose, of which reports were awaited.