MULTAN: Demand for mutton and beef has declined in Multan after several Congo virus cases were reported from south Punjab last week, butchers in the region say.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Amin, a butcher on Vehari Road said dozens of customers had expressed concerns about the virus. “They inspect the meat at my stall and decide against buying it, saying they do not want it without an assurance that the meat is safe. Despite being assured about the quality, the fear of Congo virus deters them.”
Fayyaz, another butcher, said the demand for chicken had risen. “Customers prefer to buy chicken over beef and mutton these days.”
He said the government should administer the Congo virus vaccine to livestock to address these fears.
“Our business is suffering. The government must take measures to reassure citizens that Congo Virus has been eliminated.”
District Coordination Officer Nadir Chattha told The Express Tribune that no Congo fever case had been reported in Multan.
“Teams of the Livestock Department recently checked cattle markets in this area. No evidence was found of Congo virus infection among cattle.”
He said Livestock Department workers had sprayed all cattle pens in major districts of south Punjab. He said 95 animals were put down because they were suspected of carrying Congo Virus in Multan.
“People can safely eat meat and beef,” the DCO said. “We have taken every possible step to ensure quality of food being sold in the district. Public health is our top priority and we will remain vigilant in this regard.”
“There is no vaccine available as yet, so raising awareness is all we can do,” he said.
He urged citizens to wear gloves around animals.
“To eliminate ticks, use a spray on your animals and wear a protective spray on your clothes,” he said.
“Patients who have the virus should be isolated,” he said.
He said meat should be cooked thoroughly. “Congo virus is more common in larger animals than in birds. Chicken and fish are generally safer.”
“Infected animals show abnormal behaviour and other symptoms make sure that a vet is brought in immediately,” he said.
Multan Commissioner Asadullah Khan told The Express Tribune that he had been tasked to monitor the Congo Virus situation in the district. He said an isolation ward has been set up in Nishtar Hospital to provide emergency healthcare to patients of Congo Virus. He said there were two patients there.