A 30-year-old nurse from Jodhpur who was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi with Ebola-like symptoms died of extensive internal bleeding on Wednesday but doctors said it was unlikely he was infected with the deadly virus.
Doctors suspect he was suffering from Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), a contagious disease with a high fatality rate.
India’s last Congo fever outbreak was reported from Gujarat in 2011 with four fatalities. Neighbouring Pakistan has had more regular cases with seven deaths last year. Congo fever kills up to 40% of those infected.
“It’s not Ebola. We are awaiting test reports for confirmation. He was kept in an isolation ward during treatment,” said Dr MC Misra, AIIMS director.
The nurse was admitted to the AIIMS department of medicine on Tuesday evening with symptoms such as high fever, vomiting and disorientation, AIIMS doctors said.
A colleague of the nurse, who worked in a private hospital, died of a similar infection in Jodhpur on Sunday. Three other hospital staff are also down with high fever.
A three-member team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi will visit Jodhpur on Thursday to investigate the outbreak and support state authorities, a health ministry release said. “Gujarat and Rajasthan have been alerted for a possible diagnosis of Congo fever and guidelines have been shared with the states,” the statement read.
India has had no cases of Ebola so far but has been on high alert with screening facilities at major airports for passengers from West Africa where over 8,500 people died of the deadly disease last year.
“It’s more likely to be Congo fever, also highly contagious. It can spread in close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of an infected person,” said a member of the team that treated the patient.
The exact nature of the infection will be confirmed once test reports return from the National Institute of Virology in Pune, expected on Thursday. The NCDC has already ruled out Ebola.
Symptoms for haemorrhagic fevers include headache, muscle pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain and internal and external bleeding.
Congo fever is transmitted to people primarily from ticks and livestock animals with an incubation period of up to nine days. Human-to-human transmission takes up to two weeks.