Even as the Pakistani government struggles to prevent dengue from taking on epidemic proportions, health officials in Pakistan have confirmed that the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) has killed at least 5 people, including a woman doctor, and infected around 45 people in the country's biggest city of Karachi.
Dengue, commonly known as Congo fever, is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which usually bites during the day. It occurs in two forms, dengue fever (DF), and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), also called the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF).
The symptoms of CCHF include headaches and vomiting, followed by bleeding through the nose, mouth and ears, and the illness is often accompanied by hepatitis and pulmonary failure.
A spokesman of the health ministry said that hospitals in this southern Pakistan port city had been put on alert and that the government had sent blood samples of five patients from Congo to laboratories in South Africa for tests.
Meanwhile, the health minister Nisar Khan appealed to the public not to panic, and asserting that the situation was under control, said that the disease early warning system was fully operational at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, which was monitoring the entire situation in close association with the provincial health department.
The minister also assured that there were enough stocks in the country of oral anti-virals like Ribavirin, which was administered in such cases and supplies of Ribavirin injections were being imported on an urgent basis.
The provincial health authorities in Sindh have also been requested to spray chemicals to destroy vector-born diseases, and asked to run a campaign to educate people about the risk of CCHF, with a special focus on butchers and those in close contact with animals.