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Congo Virus: Citizens asked to avert sacrificial animals' tick bites.

ISLAMABAD -- Citizens have been advised to take special preventive measures for upcoming Eid-ul-Azha as congo virus is transmitted to people, either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter.

According to health experts, citizens should wear gloves and other protective clothing while handling animals or their tissues, notably during slaughtering, butchering and culling procedures in slaughter houses or at home.

They said that public health workers, along with animal herders, veterinarians, para-veterinary staff, livestock workers, animal merchants, butchers and slaughterhouse workers are at risk of the disease.

Medical expert Dr Wasim Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that ticks, especially of Hyalommagenus are both reservoir and vector for the congo virus while numerous wild and domestic animals, such as cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep are silent carriers of this virus and the adult ticks feed on these animals.

Apart from them the close contacts caring the suspected case and person involved in burial practices are also at risk of getting infection, he added.

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

Dr Sharif Astori from Federal Government Poly Clinic (FGPC) said that citizens should avoid having close physical contact with 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.

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

He said that 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.

When contacted, an official from National Institute of Health (NIH) said that the institution has already issued an advisory on prevention and control of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) for upcoming Eid-ul-Azha.

He added the objective of this advisory was to sensitize human and animal health care authorities to further strengthen and improve the level of preparedness in prevention and control of CCHF.

The advisory, which was issued by the NIH's Field Epidemiology

and Disease Surveillance Division, said that the CCHF is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) of the Bunyaviridae

family with a case fatality rate of 10-40 percent, he added.

The advisory said that public health advice should focus on several aspects including wear protective clothing (long sleeves, long trousers), wear light colored 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 acaricides or repellents on clothing and skin.

He said that although Balochistan remains the most affected province, yet cases have been reported from almost all geographical regions of the country.

He said that during 2016, out of 101 confirmed CCHF cases, 33 died (with CFR 33%). During 2017 till date, a total of 41 confirmed cases have been reported including 16 cases from Balochistan, 15 from Punjab, seven from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and three from FATA.
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Sep 2, 2017
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