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NARC issues guidelines for Congo fever

NARC issues guidelines for Congo fever

ISLAMABAD: As Eidul Azha nears, the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) has issued public awareness guidelines to prevent the deadly viral infection commonly known as Congo fever.

The Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) does not present any symptoms in animals other than a transient fever, an often overlooked indication. According to information released by the NARC’s Animal Sciences Institute, it cannot be diagnosed in animals – although the presence of ticks can be an indication.

The incidence of CCHF has increased rapidly in countries in the World Health Organisation’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, where Pakistan is located, with sporadic human cases and outbreaks reported from a number of countries. Pakistan is ranked four in the overall CCHF cases from the region.

CCHF is a widespread tick-borne viral disease that affects human. It is endemic in Africa, Asia – particularly Central Asia and eastern and southern Europe. There is no specific treatment or vaccine for CCHF, which is considered an emerging zoonotic disease in many countries.

CCHF can be spread from the bite of an infected tick, contact with the blood or bodily secretions of infected animals and from infected humans to other humans.

It is an occupational hazardous disease; livestock farmers, abattoir workers, butchers and veterinary and para-veterinary staff are at high risk of contracting the disease.

The NARC has suggested a number of precautionary measures regarding CCHF. People are advised to stay away from animals with ticks, and to only select tick-free animals for sacrificial purposes. Animals are also sprayed with anti-tick medication before entering the livestock market.

The NARC has advised buyers of sacrificial animals to wear full sleeved and brightly coloured shirts so that minimal parts of their body are exposed and ticks can be spotted easily on brightly coloured fabric.

People should also use tick repellent before visiting cattle markets. People also should not handle to try to remove ticks from animals bare handed.

The NARC has said that offal and leftovers of the animals should be disposed of properly by burying or handing it over to the municipal corporation staff, meat should not be handled bare handed, children should be kept away from animals, only professional butchers should be hired to slaughter animals, the area where the animal is slaughtered should be disinfected and a physician should be consulted immediately in case of vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and muscle and abdominal pain.

Scientists at the NARC have been engaged in the development of WHO CCHF research and a roadmap for preventing epidemics.

The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) is engaged in research collaboration with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Virus Reference and Research, Public Health England and the Department of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo for the development of diagnostics.

PARC scientists are engaged and assisted in the preparation of a CCHF contingency plan for Pakistan in consultation with the National Institute of Health in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018

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