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Pakistan On Alert After Cases Of Fatal Fever

Islamabad and Rawalpindi in Pakistan are on high alert following two suspected cases of the deadly Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF).//

While a woman died of suspected CCHF at the Rawalpindi General Hospital (RGH) Sunday evening, another suspected case was admitted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) here.

Health authorities early Monday put all the hospitals in the twin cities on high alert.

Rukhsana Iqbal, 35, was brought to RGH after she developed high fever and a serious bleeding disorder a few days after she gave birth to her eighth child in a private clinic.

Doctors say CCHF is transmitted to human beings by tics as well as through direct contact with the blood and secretions of an infected animal or patient.

Hospital authorities sought to downplay the death with RGH Medical Superintendent Habib Ahmed Khan saying that it was a mishandled delivery case.

"When her relatives brought her to the RGH the patient had been bleeding seriously. She was given blood and a senior lady doctor handled her but she died on Sunday afternoon," he told reporters.

But suspicions persisted as Rukhsana's husband Mohammad Iqbal works at a tannery.

Though he insisted that CCHF symptoms were not detected in Rukhsana's case, Habib said her blood sample had been sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) for a confirmed diagnosis.

"All possible infection control measures have been taken. The operation theatre where the woman was operated was sealed immediately," he added.

The blood sample of the man admitted to PIMS with suspected CCHF virus, Ejaz Ahmad, a butcher from Abbottabad, has also been sent to the NIH for onward transmission to South Africa to determine whether he was a CCHF case, sources said.

Ejaz, 27, was rushed to PIMS after he developed the symptoms the day after his cousin, Mohammad Abid, also a butcher, died of high fever and excessive bleeding in an Abbottabad hospital on Saturday.

After the incident, authorities have banned the sale of sheep meat in Abbottabad, 80 km from here.

Though PIMS officials said Ejaz had been kept in isolation, sources in Rawalpindi said no safety measures were followed for the transportation of Rukhsana's body. The body was neither chlorinated nor wrapped in plastic sheets to ensure safe transportation and burial.

As news of transportation of the body to Rukhsana's native town Sialkot reached, a man who identified himself as a nazim contacted RGH Sunday night asking the hospital authorities not to send it, a hospital official said.


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