ISLAMABAD, Sept 12: A patient who had symptoms of the Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (Congo fever) died in the early hours of Thursday at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).

Congo fever is a tick-borne viral disease which is mainly transferred to humans from domestic animals.

Its symptoms include fever, bloody urine and nose bleeds.

In a news briefing, Dr Ayesha Ishani, deputy executive director of Pims, said the 21-year-old patient, Shahzad, was brought to Pims from the Military Hospital Rawalpindi on September 11 along with three other family members.

However, she said Shahzad died on Thursday morning owing to his critical condition.

“In addition to Shahzad, Shiraz Ahmed (25), the family head Mohammad Yousaf, 60, and his son Arif Khan, 28 were brought to the hospital and are under treatment in the Pims isolation ward,” Dr Ayesha said.

“The isolated wards are designated for Congo fever and dengue fever patients,” she added.

She said all four patients belonged to a family of butchers and were residing in Abbottabad.

Due to their profession, they were in close contact with the animals which resulted in the spread of the disease.

“The symptoms of the patients are similar to those of the commonly known Congo fever,” she said.

“As per the standard operating procedure, we have gathered the patients’ blood samples and dispatched them to the National Institute of Health (NIH). The institute will confirm whether or not the patients test positive for the CCHF,” Dr Ayesha added.

When asked to comment on the health of the patients, she said the father and son were in a critical condition and “chances of their recovery are slim.”

“Still, a team of physicians is trying its best to ensure resuscitation of both patients,” she informed the media.

Explaining the history of the patients, Dr Ayesha said: “Another patient linked to the same family had died on September 10 in Abbottabad.

After the condition of the patients became critical, they were first sent to the Military Hospital from where they were later shifted to Pims.”

She added that a team of NIH and World Health Organisation (WHO) officials had also consulted the hospital management to get an update on the patients’ treatment and condition.

When asked what preventive measures were being taken by the physicians and the medical staff, she said, “Knowing that Congo fever can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with blood, we have taken special precautions while treating the patients.”

The first death in Pakistan due to the fever was reported in 1976 in Rawalpindi when Dr Mateen died while treating a patient at the Central General Hospital (now Benazir Bhutto Hospital).

A 25-year-old intern physician, Dr Farzana, also died at the Holy Family Hospital in 2002 while treating a Congo fever patient.

A female patient was last tested positive in February 2013.

She was treated at Pims and was later discharged after fully recovering from the disease.

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