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KangoIncidences of the Congo-Crimean Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), which is widespread in Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East, have been reported recently in Pakistan.

So far, 10 people have been infected in Karachi and Lahore this month. It is believed that this is because infected sacrificial animals from rural areas such as Chakwal and Zhob have been brought into Karachi and Lahore for Bakra Eid.CCHF is a communicable disease caused by a virus that is transferred to livestock via tick bites and human beings can contract it if they come into physical contact with infected goats, sheep or cows. The disease has a 30 to 40% mortality rate for humans (it does not harm animals), provided it is diagnosed early on. The symptoms are apparent almost immediately after infection and include elevated body temperatures, severe body ache, dizziness, eye sores and photophobia (sensitivity to light) in the initial stages, followed by anxiety and depression as the disease progresses.

With no vaccination available for either animals or humans, the key to protecting yourself is ‘precaution to ensure prevention’. Therefore, before buying a sacrificial animal, inspect it for ticks, and once you bring it home, bathe it with acaricides (tick-removing chemicals) and pesticides to be on the safe side.

Remember, basic hygiene, like washing hands with anti-bacterial soap or handwash, and cleaning the floor with disinfectants is mandatory if you are keeping these animals within close quarters. As it may be impossible to keep children away from the animals, applying tick repellents on their hands and faces is highly recommended.

As patients hardly ever recover from CCHF if left untreated for a few days, the disease will become endemic in no time if quarantine and control measures are not taken immediately.

All of us need to do our share to enjoy a healthy Bakra Eid!

– Dr Tariq Sohail
The writer works at the Dow Medical College and Civil Hospital.

First published in the Health Advertiser of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 28, 2014.