How to protect yourself from Congo virus this Eidul Adha?

Congo virus is a silent killer.

Eidul Azha, is just around the corner and the excitement has begun. Many people have already purchased their sacrificial animals, while those who haven’t aren’t going to leave it too late. However, this year too the festival will be marred with the presence of lethal viruses – COVID-19 and the Congo virus.

Balochistan health ministry today (Thursday) confirmed that they had received the report of two Congo virus cases. During the last one-and-a-half month, seven Congo virus patients were brought to the facility. Some Congo virus cases were also reported in Sindh.

The congo virus has been present in the country for the last 20 years, often resurfacing around Eidul Azha due to the sudden increase in the transportation and movement of cattle in every city and village.

What is Congo virus?

Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, or Congo virus, is viral infection transmitted by Hyalomma ticks to both animals and humans. The virus is transmitted by ticks living in the skins of goats, cows, buffalos and camels, feeding on their blood. The disease is rare in infected animals, who mostly act as carriers of the disease which they transmit, it is severe in infected humans.

There is an estimated 10–30 percent fatality rate in humans and so far no vaccine is available for human use. In such a scenario, the only way to prevent people from catching this is through raising awareness and adopting precautionary measures.

How people can get Congo virus?

  • Being bitten directly by the tick.
  • Humans and animals can transmit the virus to other humans.
  • Through contact with infected animal blood or tissues.
  • Human-to-human transmission can occur by close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.
  • Hospital-acquired infections can also occur due to improper sterilisation of medical equipment, reuse of needles and contamination of medical supplies.

What are its symptoms?

Symptoms include high fever, vomiting, diarrheal, red eyes, bleeding and severe body pain, especially in the joints, abdominal pain and sore throat, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion.

As the condition gets severe, bleeding from gums, skin and large intestine may also occur and red spots appear on the body. The bleeding is due to the shortage of white cells that this disease causes and this can be very dangerous.

Precautions

  • To avoid tick bites, people who go near animals or the cattle market should cover their face, hands, feet and so on.
  • Avoid touching or going too close to animals that may have ticks.
  • Contact with infected blood or tissues should also be avoided.
  • Acaricides, which are pesticides that kill ticks and mites, can be used on livestock and other domesticated animals to control ticks.
  • The waste material of sacrificial animals should be disposed properly.

Congo virus is a silent killer. More importantly, preventive measures can be taken if there are efforts to spread greater awareness about the spread of the disease, especially during the Eidul Azha holidays. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, we take health and hygiene practices far too lightly, until there is no choice — or it is too late.