Pakistan is a developing country, still struggling to maintain hygiene due to lack of literacy, has had a virus scare for many years now. It is an agrarian society which thrives on animals for cattle and labor, even big cities like Lahore and Karachi have a hand full of donkeys, horses and different kinds of cattle and pets. Therefore, people are at high risk of coming in contact with different kinds of viruses. Three most spreading viruses in Pakistan includes Congo, Dengue and Chikungunya, following are some essentials one should know about these viruses.
What is Congo virus?
Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a widespread tick-borne viral disease that is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia. Some infected ticks enter animals and infect them with this virus, which then gets transmitted to humans due to their negligence. Therefore the virus can spread swiftly if not controlled.
Symptoms of Congo Virus
Here are 3 symptoms of Congo virus:
- A person may experience flu like symptoms at first, which may diminish in a weeks’ time.
- Emotional confusion, aggression, mood swings, fever, red eyes, flushed face, joint pain, nosebleeds, vomiting and black stools are some other symptoms which a person may experience.
- Pain in upper abdomen due to swollen liver, which may be followed by kidney failure, breathing issues, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate may also be observed and eventually a shock may occur in serious cases due to poor blood circulation.
Treatment of Congo Virus
There is no availability of vaccine till date for Congo virus. However, awareness and precautions may be taken to avoid getting in contact with such viruses.
Here are 5 precautions one may take to avoid Congo virus:
- Minimum skin exposure, use of gloves and masks when around animals is advised, wearing bright clothes may also help in detecting ticks.
- Avoid areas where there are too many ticks but if necessarily exposed to such areas eliminate ticks by using spray on animals.
- Isolate patients who have the virus, maintain minimal or protected contact, wash body and hands afterwards. The syringes and needles should be carefully disposed. Sanitation is important. The virus is present in all fluids released by the host animals and patients.
- Cook meat thoroughly, avoid it if possible. It is more common in larger animals than in birds. So chicken and fish might be safer.
- The Eid-ul-Azha is soon going to approach. The meat can be neutralized by cooking but the disposed organs and leaked blood is risky. Hence, leftover should not stay longer and cleaning everything quickly while remaining covered may help in avoiding such conditions.
Is also a mosquito-borne disease has reared its head in Karachi, affecting hundreds of people in Malir, Saudabad and Shah Faisal neighborhoods of the city. This disease shares clinical signs with dengue and may sometimes be misdiagnosed in dengue ridden areas. According to WHO, it is Chikungunya virus that can become epidemic in the country and a significant risk factor towards chikungunya is the exposure of humans to mosquito breeding sites.
Signs and symptoms
Here are 3 symptoms of chikungunya
- Chikungunya causes abrupt onset of fever and severe joint pain. This joint pain often makes a person weak n lethargic which usually lasts for a few days and may also be prolonged to several weeks.
- Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
- Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have also been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death.
There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms. Including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids. There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine.
Prevention and control
Here are 5 preventive measures which could be taken for prevention and control of chikungunya:
- Reducing the number of natural and artificial water-filled container in areas that support breeding of the mosquitoes.
- Use of insecticides to kill flying mosquitoes, application to surfaces in and around containers where the mosquitoes land.
- Minimization of skin exposure also minimizes the risk, while usage of repellents may be applied to exposed skin is advised.
- Insecticide treated mosquito nets are a good source of protection for young children and older or people who are ill and rest during the day time.
- Usage of mosquito coils or other insecticide vaporizers is encouraged indoors.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne infection and is one of the most important infectious disease in Pakistan, due to its increasingly frequent epidemics. According to WHO this virus is transmitted to humans when an infected female Aedes mosquito bites a person. According to a report in November 2010 more than 21,204 people were diagnosed with dengue fever and in summer 2011, more than 300 people died of it with a prevalence of 14,000. However, the outbreak occurred mostly in Lahore, Punjab Pakistan.
Dengue fever symptoms
This is a severe, flu-like illness which affects infants, young children and adults, but rarely causes death. Here are 3 symptoms of Dengue:
- A person may likely be suffering from dengue if a high grade fever is accompanied by two of the following symptoms: severe headache, nausea swollen glands or rash and joint pains.
- Severe dengue is a life threatening complication since it involves respiratory distress, severe bleeding or organ impairment, leakage of plasma and accumulation of fluids. Warning signs occur 3–7 days after the first symptoms along with a decrease in temperature and include: severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums, fatigue, restlessness and blood in vomit.
- The next 24–48 hours of the critical stage can be lethal; proper medical care is needed to avoid complications and risk of death.
There is no specific practice to treat dengue, since maintenance of body fluid is quiet critical and only medical care provided by the physicians experienced with the effects and progression of the disease can save lives.
However, in late 2015 and early 2016, the first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia (CYD-TDV) by Sanofi Pasteur, was registered in several countries for use in individuals 9-45 years of age living in endemic areas.
WHO recommends that countries should consider introduction of the dengue vaccine CYD-TDV only in geographic settings (national or sub national) where epidemiological data indicate a high burden of disease.
Other tetravalent live-attenuated vaccines are under development and are at earlier stages of clinical development.
Prevention and control
Here are 5 preventions to combat vector mosquitoes through:
- Domestic water storage containers should be covered, emptied and cleanse on regular basis and dispose all solid wastes properly.
- Use of appropriate insecticides to outdoor water storage containers is essential.
- Window screens, long-sleeved clothes, insecticide treated materials, coils and vaporizers are all helpful.
- In case of outbreaks, an emergency vector -control measure is to spray insecticides into the space.
- Careful clinical detection and management of dengue patients can significantly reduce mortality rates from severe dengue.
Patients often delay in seeking medical assistance. However, in case of any of the above symptoms immediately find and consult a doctor without much delay, as this approach of precaution may save a life.
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