An alert has been sounded in Rajasthan after two suspected cases of the deadly Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), commonly known as Congo fever, were reported in Jodhpur.
According to state Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma: "Two suspected patients of Congo fever have been found in Jodhpur and have been referred to a Ahmedabad hospital. Their samples have also been sent for a thorough investigation and an alert has been issued by the Medical Department in the state."
"A letter has been issued to all health centres to remain alert about this. The medical officials have been asked to collect samples if there is any element of suspicion," said Dr Narottam Mishra, Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO) - Jaipur.
"In case of Congo fever, the samples are sent to a lab in Hyderabad and the reports generally take a minimum of four days. At present, the Jodhpur teams are monitoring the outbreak and if more cases emerge then a team from our hospital will get involved," said Dr S. Banerjee from Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh Hospital.
"Congo fever is caused by the CCHF virus and its symptoms are mostly like dengue fever, which makes the real disease difficult to diagnose," said the health officials.
Health Ministry officials said that the virus is primarily transmitted to people from ticks and livestock. Animals bitten by infected ticks become infected and the virus remains in their bloodstream for about one week. Hence those involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians are at a risk.
The Ministry officials also shared information on scrub typhus, 560 cases of which have been reported in Rajasthan this year. In fact, some 200 scrub typhus cases have been reported in Jaipur alone.
Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, is spread through bites of infected chiggers (larval mites) and its symptoms include fever, headache, bodyache and rashes.
Rajasthan tops the states in diseases, including swine flu, scrub typhus and dengue. A total of 5,052 cases of these fevers have been reported in the state this year, leading to the death of 206 patients.