Preventive steps stressed to cut risk of viral disease
KABUL (Pajhwok): A serious tick-borne viral disease called the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) may spread during the Eidul Adha festival, the Afghan government and the United Nations warned on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) asked the public to take special preventive measures to protect themselves.
According to a joint statement from the ministries and the UN agencies, the CCHF viral disease is primarily transmitted to people from ticks or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter.
Hosts of the CCHF virus include a wide range of wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and goats. Human-to-human transmission can also occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected persons.
Minister of Public Health Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz said: “CCHF is a serious health issue in Afghanistan with a current fatality rate of around 12%. So far this year 66 cases have been confirmed and 12 people have already lost their lives to this disease.
“And the risk further increases during the upcoming Eid holiday. We urge everyone to take necessary preventive measures as they slaughter animals during the holy Eid-al-Adha holiday to protect themselves and their families from this virus.”
Assadullah Zamir, minister of agriculture, said: “It is important that people wear gloves and other protective clothing when handling animals and their tissues. To prevent tick-to-human transmission, people should wear protective and light-coloured clothing to be able to detect ticks more easily.”
CCHF symptoms include fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and sensitivity to light. There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings.
Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, WHO country representative, said: “WHO is supporting enhanced surveillance through the Ministry of Public Health by further scaling up surveillance activities and laboratory capacity. Healthcare providers are being trained to be able to diagnose and treat people with CCHF...”
FAO Representative Tomio Shichiri said the UN agency was is fully engaged in supporting the important preventive initiative and additional steps had been taken to strengthen veterinary laboratory capacity and enhance awareness of people involved in the livestock sector.
Globally 75% of infectious diseases that have affected humans in the past 10 years have been caused by pathogens originating from animals or products of animal origin, CCHF being among those. Well-coordinated efforts must continue beyond the Eid-al-Adha, he stressed.
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