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Amid COVID, Congo fever cases on rise, city tabelas and cattle feeders are on high alert

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Tabela, Mumbai, Congo Fever, Congo, Animal Husbandry, Buffalo

A rare disease known as Congo fever has claimed its first victims in India. The Palghar district administration issued a ‘Congo fever’ alert after neighboring Gujarat districts reported around four cases of the Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), feared to be spreading from animals to humans. The district administration has asked cattle feeders, meat sellers, and staff of the state animal husbandry department to watch out for symptoms that can cause the Congo fever. The virus is transmitted through the bite of the Hyalomma tick, an external parasite, living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, etc.

Jogeshwari’s only ‘Tabela’ owner, Ramanand Tiwary told Afternoon Voice that “the cattle are brought from Gujarat and nearby areas to Mumbai. The sheds here are congested due to space problem, we maintain possible hygiene but still avoiding cattle is not possible’.

Ashish Mulk, a Veterinary doctor from Borivali said “this is not the first time that Maharashtra is facing the threat of Congo fever, it actually returns every year. Surprisingly no major steps are taken to control such hazards”. The onset of CCHF is sudden, with initial signs and symptoms including headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, and vomiting. Red eyes, a flushed face, a red throat, and petechiae (red spots) on the palate are common. Symptoms may also include jaundice, and in severe cases, changes in mood and sensory perception. As the illness progresses, large areas of severe bruising, severe nosebleeds and uncontrolled bleeding at injection sites can be seen, beginning on about the fourth day of illness and lasting for about two weeks”. This time COVID pandemic has already taken a toll and this is another threat to human lives”.

The long-term effects of CCHF infection have not been studied well enough in survivors to determine whether or not specific complications exist. However, recovery is slow. Animal husbandry department’s deputy commissioner Dr. Prashant Kamble in a circular said the CCHF has been found in some districts of Gujarat. As villages of Palghar district border Gujarat, an alert has been issued. No case of CCHF has been reported in the Palghar district so far. Those with symptoms like headache, high fever, joint pains, abdomen pain and nausea, redness of the eyes, bleeding from the nose have been asked to report to the district administration. Farmers have been asked to ensure the hygiene of cattle sheds, wearing masks, gumboots, and hand gloves.

The district is already tackling growing cases of Covid-19 in rural areas. As of Monday, the district had 34,558 cases of which rural Palghar had 12,279. In January 2011, the first human cases of CCHF in India were reported in Sanand, Gujarat, India, with 4 reported deaths, which included the index patient, treating physician, and nurse. As of May 2012, 71 people were reported to have contracted the disease in Iran, resulting in 8 fatalities.

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