Raising awareness means saving lives

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The Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is a viral disease transferred from animals to humans via infected ticks or animal blood, and then from human to human through body fluids. The fatality rate is more than 30 percent in Afghanistan where it spreads rapidly, as most villagers keep livestock in their living quarters and do not understand the related hazards.

This summer, its reoccurrence prompted the Afghan government to ask for assistance from the USAID to raise awareness about Congo fever and help save lives. The awareness training helped the 800 dairy farmers and butchers (of whom 160 were women) learn how to recognize the fever, what to do during livestock farming and slaughtering to reduce the risk of human infection, and how to limit the viral spread and impact on the people dealing with livestock. Many of the attendants have been afflicted by this fatal disease.

Aziz Ahmad Shirzay was playing with his six-year old daughter, Hadia, when she was bit by a tick and became sick. He took her to hospitals in Nangarhar and Kabul, even Pakistan, but no one could save her.

Sabza Gul lost her niece to Congo fever. “She got infected killing a tick while milking. She started bleeding. Her family thought it was some kind of flu and waited for it to go away on its own. By the time they took her to a hospital, it was too late.”

After the training, both Sabza Gul and Shirzay expressed how this information is critically important and stated that they will share this knowledge within their communities, helping prevent and reduce the spread of the lethal virus. Shirzay remarked, “I am grateful for the USAID initiative to prevent this disease from taking more lives.”