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Congo patient sets alarm bells ringing for doctors

September 02, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Sept 1: As many as 21 doctors and paramedics are feared to have contracted Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) at Holy Family Hospital (HFH) while treating a patient.

However, Young Doctors Association claimed that the hospital administration had failed to adopt safety measures against the disease.

Doctors said the staff might have contracted the infection of CCHF while dealing a patient who died at the hospital on August 29.

Mohammad Razaaq, 60, was brought to HFH on August 27 to the hospital from Choa Syedan Shah and died on August 29.

“The patient was suffering from fever for the last one week and started bleeding from mouth and nose a few days back,” said Dr Waleed Abbasi, HFH Young Doctors Association President, while talking to Dawn.

He said ten doctors and four paramedics treated the patient but the hospital administration failed to vaccinate the doctors and conduct their Congo serology.

He said last year eight doctors contracted the disease and one doctor died in 2002 while treating the congo fever patient.

When contacted, Dr Javed Hayyat, in-charge infectious diseases, said that the doctors and staff were under observation of the senior doctors.  He said that a total 21 doctors and paramedics were feared to have contracted the disease.

He said that they had conducted the complete blood picture and liver function tests of the staff and doctors and they would send their blood samples to National Institute of Health (NIH) for congo serology on Monday.

“So far no member of the staff has developed symptoms and the said virus died automatically after two weeks if a patient does not suffer from fever,” he said.

When contacted, HFH Medical Superintendent Capt. (retired) Dr Fayyaz said that all the staff and doctors were under observation of medical board led by Dr Mohammad Afzal. “We are also doctors and caring our juniors like children and there is no need to be worried,” he said.

He said as a precautionary measure, the hospital administration had started the fumigation of the wards. He said that the complete fumigation would be done in two or three days.

Viral hemorrhagic fever belongs to Zoonotic diseases that animals cause to humans. Of all the disease-causing human viruses, this is the only one which the animal hosts and the virus life cycle could not be known around the globe so far.

In Pakistan first human outbreak reported from Rawalpindi in 1976 and Dr Mateen also died while treating this patient of CCFH at Central General Hospital (now renamed as Benazir Bhutto Hospital).

A 25-year-old internee physician Dr Farzana at Holy Family Hospital also died in 2002 while treating a patient.