KARACHI: The authorities of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) have issued Congo emergency in the city and have assigned teams to check the sacrificial animals coming from other districts of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan for the presence of Congo virus, Daily Times learnt on Sunday. After the death of Bahawalpur’s animal trader due to Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in Karachi last week, authorities have finally taken notice. On Sunday, through a letter, teams of veterinary doctors were constituted to examine the animals at cattle market. The animal trader is said to get affected by the virus in the Karachi cattle market. In a letter written by Karachi Commissioner to Karachi Metropolitan Corporation administrator, it was asked to constitute teams of veterinary doctors of KMC to examine these animals at the cattle market and direct the officers concerned to make immediate arrangements to keep them away from the other animals / cattle to prevent any untoward situation. However, in the letter, the commissioner has not mentioned, what exactly the teams would be doing with the animals at the cattle market. According to Dr Zafar Mehdi, focal person on the government facility for prevention of naegleria and CCHF, Allah Ditta, a 22-year-old man from Bahawalpur, had brought sacrificial animals in the city to sell ahead of Eidul Azha, died at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) after being inflicted with the Congo fever, taking the toll of victims of the disease in the city to four this year. Trader’s death alarmed the local authorities to make sure that hundreds of thousands of animals, already brought to the animal market off the Superhighway, were safe from the tick that transfers the lethal disease to humans. The CCHF is a widespread tick-borne viral disease that is endemic in Africa, Balkans, Middle East and Asia. The virus is a member of the Bunyaviridae family of RNA viruses. The CCHF virus causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks, with a case fatality rate of 10-40 percent. Health experts have warned that Congo viral disease might take epidemic in coming weeks as tens of thousands sacrificial animals would enter Karachi ahead of Eidul Azha,. They have asked authorities concerned to devise a strategy for screening and vaccination of animals. “The sale of animals is less regulated; there is an increased movement of animals from endemic areas to urban centres, as purchases are made both from cattle markets and local vendors who bring animals from rural areas to commercial and residential areas of cities,” said Dr Farhana Azim, Public Health Consultant and Member Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI)’s Diagnostic Committee. “Hence, it is common for families to purchase cattle, goat or a sheep several weeks in advance of Eid, to maintain the animal for sacrifice on Eid. This leads to an increased exposure of the general public to viremic animals,” she added. Another public health expert, Dr Suleman Otho, has asked the agricultural workers and others working with animals to use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing. It was important for healthcare workers to use proper infection control precautions to prevent occupational exposure, he added. “Insect repellents containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are the most effective in warding off ticks. Wearing gloves and other protective clothing is recommended. Individuals should also avoid contact with the blood and body fluids of livestock or humans who show symptoms of infection,” he added. According to Dr Otho, an inactivated, mouse-brain derived vaccine against CCHF has been developed and is used on a small scale in Eastern Europe. However, there is no safe and effective vaccine currently available for human use. “Further research is needed to develop these potential vaccines as well as determine the efficacy of different treatment options including ribavirin and other antiviral drugs,” he added.