KARACHI: Unless you live in Zhob, Balochistan you do not run a direct risk of contracting the Congo virus, says Professor of Haemotology at the National Institute of Blood Diseases, Dr Tahir Shamsi.
Explaining the origin of the cases in Pakistan, the doctor stresses there is no cause for alarm. “People in Zhob infected by Congo hemorrhagic fever are often moved to Quetta for treatment,” he says. “Healthcare providers who do not adequately protect themselves while treating the patient, end up contracting the virus from them.” As a result, the infected healthcare providers are sent to Karachi for treatment. More often than not, those who catch the virus in the early stages, receive treatment and are stabilised. The average number of cases from Zhob each year ranges from 50 to 100, not enough to call it an epidemic, Shamsi says.
What is the Congo virus?
Congo fever is found mainly among domestic and wild animals through which it may be transmitted to humans. The season for the tick-borne virus, which has symptoms similar to that of dengue hemorrhagic fever, is from June to September. It becomes a worry around Eid-ul Azha when thousands of animals are brought to Sindh’s urban centres ahead of the religious festival. The onset of the illness is sudden, with symptoms such as fever, severe muscular pain, chills, headache and vomiting. At this stage, among other symptoms, the face is flushed, the tongue becomes dry and is often coated with blood. Initially a slow pulse is recorded but with the continuous loss of blood in vomits, the blood pressure may drop drastically, making the heart weak. These are obvious signs of an imminent shock and vascular collapse. About 30% of people infected with the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever are reported to eventually die. Luckily, for people who are infected with Congo, there is anti-viral drug – the same drug is used for people who are treated for Hepatitis C.
Healthcare providers treating infected patients need to be very careful. In fact, Dr Shamsi recommends more precautions than when treating patients with HIV. Avoid very invasive procedures unless necessary. If such procedures need to be performed, proper measures must be taken for protection.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2011.
Urdu Source: Urdupages
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