NIH directed to support Punjab Health Department in handling Congo fever cases

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ISLAMABAD, July 30 (APP): Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar Saturday took cognizance of the reports of the Congo fever in Bahawalpur district and directed the National Institute of Health (NIH) to provide all out support to the Punjab Health Department in meeting the challenge.

Ordering cancellation of weekend holidays of relevant staff of
laboratories and Field Epidemiology Division of NIH, the minister directed that all samples received at the NIH from suspected cases be tested and report shared with the Punjab government in the shortest possible time.

She further directed the Federal Epidemic Response Team to be on high alert and be ready to be dispatched when the provincial government requires their help.

Dr Sageer Sameega, a surgeon in Bahawalpur Victoria Hospital, was reportedly admitted in the hospital on July, 2016 with 5-6 days history of symptoms of fever, sore throat and diarrhoea. His dengue test was negative.

He was shifted to Agha Khan University Hospital, Karachi, on July 27 and was diagnosed as CCHF positive on July 28. He died on July 30.

It was reported that he may have acquired the virus during surgery performed on a patient named Nadia Hina (Student Nurse at DHQ Hospital Lodhran), who underwent laparotomy at the hospital and was labeled as hemorrhagic peritonitis.

She reportedly had history of contact with livestock during visit to her relatives. She also died later on July 17.

Another doctor named Dr Awais, who assisted Dr Sagheer, also developed symptoms of fever and sore throat for the last five days and is on ventilator at Agha Khan University Hospital, Karachi. He has been put on anti-viral therapy as well.

A special expert team constituted by the Punjab government is in Bahwalpur for epidemiological investigation. Five operation theatre and ward staff of BVH and their close contacts are under observation while four close contacts are in quarantine.

Samples sent to NIH, Islamabad for laboratory testing while livestock department has been contacted for ticks identification and preventive measures. Some 25 family members and all 25 close contacts of the staff nurse at Lodhran are in quarantine and are being observed for 14 days.

Their samples have also been sent to NIH, Islamabad.
Dr. Awais and his family is also under observation and samples were sent to NIH and monitoring for fever twice in a day for consecutive 14 days for all contacts and to report immediately to hospital in case of fever.

Some 2500 personal protective kits for doctors and paramedics were sent to Bahawalpur and 1000 kits for Lodhran.