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Congo fever cases on the increase in Afghanistan

Congo fever cases on the increase in Afghanistan

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On
Jun 12, 2018 - 17:20

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Public Healthinfo-icon (MoPH) has so far recorded 75 positive cases of Congo fever across the country since March, showing a surge in the cases compared to the same period last year.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is caused by infection with a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) in the family Bunyaviridae. The disease was first characterized in Crimea in 1944 and given the name Crimean hemorrhagic fever.

The onset of CCHF is sudden, with initial signs and symptoms including headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, and vomiting. Red eyes, a flushed face, a red throat, and petechiae (red spots) on the palate are common.

Of the 75 infected persons, 14 lost their lives, health officials said. Dr. Mohammad Saleem Saha, member of the health information department, told Pajhwok Afghan News that 28 cases of Congo fever were recorded in Herat, eight in Kabul, six in Faryab, six in Balkh and the remaining 28 cases in other provinces.

He said four people died of the fever in Herat, one in Kabul, two in Faryab, two in Balkh and five in other provinces.

According to Saha, in total 244 cases of Congo fever were registered last solar yearinfo-icon, when 50 persons died and 90 percent incidents of last year’s happened in Kabul and Herat provinces.

Reasons behind Congo virus spread

CCHF is a disease caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) of the Bunyaviridae family. The CCHF virus causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks, with a case fatality rate of 10–40 percent, medics say.

Medical specialists say Congo is a zoonotic disease which is carried by several domestic and wild animals like cow, goat, sheep and ostriches.

The CCHF virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter.

The onset of CCHF is sudden, with initial signs and symptoms including headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, and vomiting.

Red eyes, a flushed face, a red throat, and petechiae (red spots) on the palate are common. Symptoms may also include jaundice, and in severe cases, changes in mood and sensory perception.

Dr. Saleem said: “The spread of Congo virus is directly linked with the level of pollution, dirt and animals such as cow, sheep, goat and others but no fresh research is conducted to show the link between pollution and animal.”

According to Pajhwok last year’s report, thousands of animals were slaughtered on a daily basis without basic hygiene precautions being taken in central capital Kabul where only ten people were tasked with stopping contaminated meat from reaching the food chain.

A Pajhwok Afghan News survey found that most of butchers in Kabul slaughtered animals at homes or shops because only two government abattoirs exist in Kabul City.

One of the two slaughter houses is run by the Ministry of Defense and the second is situated on the outskirts of Kabul City in Kampani area. It is difficult for all butchers to take their animals to the two places.

Preventive measures

Dr. Mohammad Saleem said the use of gloves while slaughtering and leaving the animal for at least one hour after slaughter can help eradicate the virus.

In addition, the use of gloves during clearing and cooking of the meat and removing the animals’ waste could help protect handlers from the Congo virus.

Health Ministry’s measures

Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Wahidullah Majroh said the ministry had made available diagnostic and treatment materials in state-run hospitals, special uniform for affected persons and medical personnel.

Other measures the ministry has taken include planning for a decline in Congo related cases during Eid-ul-Adha, training of health officials, arrangement of training programs, broadcast of health related messages through advertisements and other efforts.

nh/ma

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