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Friday, September 17, 2010

Alarm as Dengue patient tests positive for deadly Congo Virus

A patient has been diagnosed with the deadly Congo virus in Karachi.

The patient, Muhammad Kashif, is a 23-year-old resident of sector No. 9 in Orangi Town. He came to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital on September 9, complaining of a high fever. After several tests he was diagnosed with the Dengue virus.

Kashif started treatment under physician Professor Saleemullah, however his condition continued to deteriorate. Doctors carried out more blood tests which included a test for the Congo virus. The samples were sent to the Aga Khan laboratory for analysis. Results returned positive.

EDO Health Dr Nasir Javed confirmed the report, saying that Kashif was now being kept in isolation in medical unit three at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. He added that the patient was being given anti-viral treatment.

According to Sindh Special Secretary Public Health Dr Abdul Majid, three people have died of the Congo virus in Sindh this year. Giving a press briefing regarding medical camps set up for flood affectees throughout the province, he said that six people were admitted to different hospitals with symptoms of the Congo virus. Three of these people died while two recovered and one is still getting treatment in a government hospital.

Health experts have expressed fears that infections and viruses such as the Dengue, fever, cough and eye infections are spreading swiftly in Karachi. According to them, dozens of people in the city have been afflicted by the Dengue virus. Since government hospitals have a shortage of platelets and isolation units, most of the patients are going to private hospitals such as the Aga Khan, Liaquat National Hospital, Ziauddin Hospital and National Institute of Blood Diseases for treatment.

However, the Dengue Surveillance Cell that was set up on the instructions of the health minister is not working anymore. The in-charge of the cell said that he had asked private hospitals to give him information on the number of people confirmed with Dengue. However the managements of several hospitals claimed that the cell administration is simply disinterested in the mater, which is why the data on people with Dengue and other viruses is not collected or even given to the media.

According to the surveillance cell, only one person has been diagnosed with the dengue virus so far.

Doctors said that the Congo virus can spread through mucus, spit, urine and other secretions. The virus can spread from one person to another very quickly. They advised parents not to take their children to hospitals because these infections area already spreading very quickly.

Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed said that the season in which Dengue spreads has started. Focal persons to deal with the problem should be appointed in every town of the province, he added. These persons will collate data on the people who have been afflicted with the virus and ensure that they are provided with the best possible treatment. The minister instructed the health secretary Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi to restart the Dengue Surveillance Cell. He also instructed the secretary to ensure that all facilities required to diagnose dengue be made available.

Dr Ahmed asked the cell’s focal person to get in touch with private hospitals and laboratories and find out how many people have tested positive for Dengue.

According to him, around 319 possible cases of Dengue have been reported, of which 180 have been declared positive and 139 negative. Meanwhile, two patients are currently being treatment for Dengue in hospitals in Karachi.


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