Two Die of Hemorrhagic Fever in Pakistan
Two people including a worker at a private Pakistani hospital have died gruesome deaths after contracting a highly contagious disease resembling the Ebola virus, hospital sources said Tuesday.
The acute hemorrhagic fever syndrome has claimed several lives in Pakistan's southern western Baluchistan province and possibly western Afghanistan in recent months.
"A male nursing assistant, attending a patient from Baluchistan, died on Friday," Aga Khan Hospital spokesman Talat Tayabji said, adding that the patient also died.
She said the disease was confirmed as Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) after blood samples were sent to the Center of Disease Control in the United States.
CCHF was first detected in Crimea in 1944 and again in Congo in 1956 and is of the same family of acute hemorrhagic fevers as the Ebola virus found in Africa.
Usually carried by ticks, it is extremely contagious and can be passed on by contact with the blood and other body fluids of a victim, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Victims usually die within two weeks of infection, with initial symptoms including headaches, fevers and vomiting.
In its advanced stages patients may suffer from massive internal hemorrhaging, vomiting and defecating blood, bleeding into the skin and from the nose, urinary tract and gums.
"We are isolating all those patients coming with high fever as it is quite difficult to diagnose this disease quickly," Tayabji said.
Provincial health department sources said government hospitals have been asked to take extra care with patients coming from Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.
"Doctors and paramedical staff have been given instructions to ensure immediate protective measures if patients with congo symptoms are admitted to hospitals," one official said.
More than 15 people are believed to have died from the disease in western Afghanistan since May, raising concern that it could spread to the city of Herat, WHO experts have said.
The WHO flew a special team to Afghanistan in June to investigate the outbreak and help local hospitals lower the risk of infection.
The disease has been found elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East. Its last outbreaks were in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1998, according to the WHO -- KARACHI (AFP)
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