International

Afghanistan Battles Alarming Outbreak Of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever

As fatalities mount and the disease spreads rapidly, health authorities are racing against time to contain the outbreak and protect the population from further harm.

A Taliban fighter stands guard as a woman walks past in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 26, 2022.
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In the past two months, Afghanistan has witnessed a significant rise in Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever cases, with Herat province bearing the brunt. The outbreak has triggered concerns about the rapid spread of the disease and its devastating consequences.

As authorities grapple with the outbreak, the number of fatalities due to Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever continues to rise. Mohammad Asif Kabir, Deputy of public health of Herat, confirmed that five lives have been tragically claimed by the disease, underscoring the urgency of the situation.

The outbreak has extended its reach beyond Herat, with Takhar province reporting three cases of Congo hemorrhagic fever, one of which resulted in a fatality. Shockingly, over the past week, more than 90 individuals across Afghanistan have fallen ill with Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. This sudden surge has put health authorities on high alert.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, health officials in affected provinces are swiftly implementing measures to contain the outbreak. Takhar Provincial hospital, led by director Hayatullah Emami, has assured the public of their readiness to handle the disease, boasting improved measures compared to previous outbreaks. Similarly, Najibullah Tawana, director of the health department of Balkh, highlighted the preparations in the Abu Ali Sinai regional hospital and the 50-bed Antani hospital.

Understanding the Disease: Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers and Modes of Transmission

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever belongs to the spectrum of viral hemorrhagic fevers, encompassing diseases of varying severity. Characterized by sudden onset symptoms, including muscle and joint pain, high fever, bleeding, and shock, these fevers pose a significant threat to public health. Understanding the modes of transmission is crucial, as the disease can spread through direct contact with symptomatic patients, body fluids, or cadavers, inadequate infection control in healthcare settings, consumption of infected animal products, contact with rodents, or bites from mosquitoes and ticks.

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