Since Sind and his capital, Karachi, are blocked by a coronavirus, and fear of COVID-19 has spread throughout the country, a second case of the Congo virus has arisen that has heightened fears. According to Seemi Jamali, executive director of the Genie hospital in Karachi, the 37-year-old woman was hospitalized with a diagnosis of the deadly Congo virus.
She said that the patient was in critical condition, as she had bleeding from her mouth when she was taken to the hospital. However, the good news was that the first patient with the Congo virus, a 45-year-old man named Salim Kassai, was discharged from the hospital after full recovery. This year, two cases of infection with the Congo virus were reported in Karachi, where last year about two dozen people died from the Congo virus.
WHAT IS THE CONGO VIRUS?
The Congo virus, or Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), is a tick-borne viral disease that affects wild and domestic animals, including livestock. People can become infected with this disease by being bitten by an infected tick living on a host animal, or by coming into contact with the blood, tissues, or fresh meat of an infected animal.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the transmission of the virus from person to person is also possible in case of close contact with the organs, blood or other body fluids of an infected person. Initial symptoms of Congo fever include headache, fever, rash, back pain, joint pain, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Experts say that CCHF is a deadly viral infection that spreads to people from animals, especially cattle and livestock.
Patients are held in isolation facilities so that other patients, doctors, and healthcare providers cannot get sick. Mortality is around 40 percent, especially when patients are late delivered to medical facilities. Congo virus does not withstand high temperatures, and well-prepared meat does not pose a risk of transmission of the virus. CCHF is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asian countries. Animals become infected by the bite of infected ticks, and the virus remains in their bloodstream for about one week, allowing the tick-animal-tick cycle to continue when another tick bite continues.
The CCHF virus is transmitted to humans either through tick bites or as a result of contact with the blood or tissues of an infected animal during and immediately after slaughter. Most cases have occurred in livestock workers, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouses and veterinarians. Transmission from person to person can occur as a result of close contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other body fluids of infected people.
Hospital infections can also occur due to improper sterilization of medical equipment, reuse of needles, and contamination of medical supplies. There are no animal vaccines available. However, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of human infection. In the absence of a vaccine, the only way to reduce people’s infection is to raise awareness of risk factors and to inform people about measures they can take to reduce exposure to the virus.