CHAKWAL: A 13-year old boy from Khara died of Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) on Saturday at the Fauji Foundation Hospital (FFH) in Rawalpindi, officials in Chakwal health department told Dawn.
Mohammad Eman, who was a student of 9th grade, was taken to a local doctor in the village complaining of high fever on July 25. Seeing that his condition was serious, the doctor advised Eman’s father to take the boy to a hospital in Chakwal city. Eman’s father, Mohammad Safdar, took him to a doctor in the city.
“The doctor administered a drip which he should not have as the patient’s condition was very serious. After he was administered the drip, Eman’s condition deteriorated,” said District Health Officer Mohammad Aleem Danish. After this, Eman was taken to FFH Rawalpindi where he fell unconscious and died on July 30.
Criticising the FFH administration, Dr Danish said Eman’s blood samples should have been sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) on July 25, the day Eman was admitted to the hospital. He said the samples were sent on July 30, after the boy’s death.
“The virus takes six to seven days to spread. If diagnosed on time, CCHF can be treated,” he said.
“We have not yet received a written report, however, the National Institute of Health (NIH) verbally told an officer at the Director General Health Office Lahore that Eman’s samples had tested positive [for the fever],” Dr Danish said.
Eman is the third CCFH patient to die in two weeks. A surgeon at the Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur, Dr Sagheer Ahmed Sameeja also died on July 30 at the Agha Khan Hospital in Karachi while a student nurse at District Headquarters Hospital Lodhran, Nadia Hina died on July 17. She was operated upon by Dr Sagheer on July 17.
Another patient from Choa Saidan Shah in Chakwal was also diagnosed with CCHF on July 31. His condition is said to be stable and is being treated at the Holy Family Hospital (HFH) in Rawalpindi.
An infection centre was set up at HFH where patients are first tested for dengue and CCHF, according to Dr Danish.
Now that two CCHF cases have been reported from Chakwal, all state-run hospitals including rural health centres and basic health units have been asked to remain on high alert.
“I visited Eman’s house in Khara and the other patient, Ulfat’s in Choa Saidan Shah. We set up camps in both villages and surveillance teams have also been set up,” Dr Danish added.
Director Livestock Rawalpindi Division Dr Ghulam Hussein and District Officer Livestock Dr Mohsin Raza also paid visits to the villages on Monday.
“We have set up 69 teams which have been tasked with visiting every home in the area and to inject and spray animals with medicines to kill off the ticks,” Dr Ghulam Hussein told Dawn.
According to the report prepared by the health department, Mohammad Safdar and his family live in a mud house spread over 2.6 kanals where he has kept six buffaloes, seven sheep, five goats and a dog.
“CCHF spreads from animals to humans via the Hyalomma tick,” Dr Danish explained. The virus also transfers from person to person.
He said farmers often take out and kill the tick as well.
“This is a very risky practice as farmers’ hands have cuts and the blood from the ticks can transfer to the blood of the farmer,” he warned.
He urged the farmers not to take out ticks from the animals by hand and instead use medicines to kill them.
“Our problem is that people in the rural areas keep cattle in their homes. In many cases there is not much space between farmers’ living quarters and where the animals are kept,” he said.
Since 2013, seven people have been infected with the CCHF virus in Chakwal of which five recovered and two lost their lives.
Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2016