A man works in a butchery in southern Iraq. File photo: Ahmed al-Rubaye | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — After three reported deaths caused by viral hemorrhagic fever in Iraq’s Euphrates Valley, a rights group has called on the government to undertake measures to prevent the disease from spreading while officials say “the situation doesn't call for worry.”
“The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights warns of spreading the viral hemorrhagic fever, which causes human deaths and has great dangers to public health and economy of Iraq,” read a statement from IHCHR on Tuesday.
The virus is spread by mosquitoes, ticks, rodents, bats, into livestock and humans, or when humans butcher already-infected livestock.
“We call on the Ministry of Health and Diwaniyah Health Department to fumigate animal sheds in the province and carry out rapid preventive measures to prevent the spreading of the disease to Iraq's provinces,” added the rights group.
They call for butchers only to work at licensed locations and for the police and relevant administrations to issue instructions. Additionally, posters should be displayed and seminars offered as part of an education campaign.
"After two people lost their lives due to the hemorrhagic fever in the Diwanyah province, our ministry has swiftly undertaken the necessary measures to prevent the disease and provide necessary medications," Sayf Badir, a spokesperson for the ministry, said in a statement.
A source from the Diwanyah Hospital told Baghdad Today of another death on Monday, increasing the number to three.
The Provincial Council of Diwanyah held a meeting in the presence of the governor and the head of the province's police to discuss the issue.
Dr. Sabah Mahdi, the director of the National Center for Containing and Preventing Diseases, said on Monday that the first recorded case of the disease in Iraq was in 1979.
He revealed that there are continuous efforts by the veterinaries to spray pesticides at cattle fields.
"To prevent this disease, we advise all ranchers, laboratory employees, veterinary employees to wear personal protection gear while dealing with animals,” added Mahdi. "The preventive measures are continuous by following up on all the cases. The situation doesn't call for worry.”
World Health Organization defines viral hemorrhagic fever as "a general term for a severe illness, sometimes associated with bleeding, that may be caused by a number of viruses.”
Symptoms are sudden, and include fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain, backache, headache, and sore eyes among other symptoms. Mortality rate is 30 percent. There is no vaccine available for humans or animals.
There have been no reported cases outside of Diwanyah.