Deadly viruses hit Pakistan

Pakistan's federal and provincial health authorities are on high alert following reports of suspected Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) cases from Lahore, Rawalpindi and Abbottabad as well as cases of dengue fever which have caused deaths in Karachi, according to Pakistan's federal health minister Mohammad Nasir Khan.

CCHF belongs to the same family as the deadly Ebola virus found in Africa. It causes massive bleeding through the nose, mouth and ears and can lead to organ failure. As for dengue fever, it is a viral disease transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes in tropical parts of the world.

In a statement, the minister said the government was constantly in contact with the provincial health authorities to monitor the situation and providing hands on technical advice and assistance.

Earlier this week, woman died of fever and excessive bleeding in a Rawalpindi hospital after childbirth and was believed to be a suspected case of CCHF. She was, however, “a confirmed case of Post Partum Haemorrhage (PPH), which means excessive bleeding after delivery”, according to the health minister.

A butcher suspected of having CCHF virus was also admitted to the Combined Military Hospital in Abbottabad on December 8 and died the next day. CCHF is a tick-borne virus stemming from livestock, which is transmitted into open cuts and sores. Initial symptoms include headaches, fever and vomiting.

The health minister also said a suspected case of haemorrhagic encephalitis reported from Lahore General Hospital was declared negative for CCHF on investigation by a high level team at the Punjab Health Department, as the patient had no haemorrhagic manifestations at any stage of the disease.

In the meantime a person who was in contact of the patient from Abbottabad was referred to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), where his condition is improving.

Samples of both these cases have been sent to the World Health Organisation Reference Laboratory in South Africa.

As soon as the results are available, he said, these would be conveyed to the concerned quarters while the Epidemic Investigation Cell (EIC) is also closely monitoring the situation and is in contact with the District Health Authorities in Rawalpindi and Abbottabad regarding the preventive measures that can be taken, AKI reports.


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