Posts wrongly claim viruses infected poultry in southern Pakistan

Viral posts mention Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD).

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Claim: Poultry in Sindh and Balochistan are infected with different viruses that can be transmitted to humans such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD).

Fact: No virus has been detected in poultry across Pakistan as confirmed by the Pakistan Poultry Association. 

Fact or Fiction?

On March 14, Facebook page Balochistan TV claimed that the Congo virus (Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever) has been detected in poultry in Balochistan and 13 people brought to the Jinnah Hospital were found to be infected by it. 

A handful of Facebook pages picked up the claim including here and here.

Another claim about a different viral disease infecting cows, buffaloes, goats and chicken across Sindh, including in Mirpurkhas, was shared by Facebook user Nisar Mani on March 10, 2022. His post also claims that animals are dying due to the virus and it can be transmitted to humans if they consume the meat of infected animals. 

Soch Fact Check conducted a Google Reverse Image Search to trace one of the images in the post and found a 2018 article by City42. The article published 23 November 2018 carried the story with the headline, “چکن کھانےوالے ہوجائیں ہوشیار خبردار، خطرناک تحقیق مںظر عام پر آگئی [People who eat chicken should beware, alarming research surfaces”. 

Soch Fact Check ascertained that the claims doing the rounds on social media are citing City42’s 2018 story, which contains misleading claims as well, to spread false information. 

The claim was also shared on a handful of Facebook groups such as here.

A similar claim about فزولا وائر س [Lumpy Skin Disease] spreading among poultry was shared by Facebook user Muhammad Atif Qaim Khani on different groups, including here and here, as well.

Soch Fact Check got in touch with the Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA) to verify the veracity of the aforementioned claims. Sqn Ldr (R)Muzammil Aftab, Secretary General of PPA, said that the claims are “incorrect, baseless and absurd”. He also revealed that the PPA’s South Regional office, which covers Sindh and Balochistan, last week launched a complaint in connection to negative propaganda on social media with the Cyber Crime Cell of FIA in Karachi. 

Additionally, Dr. Nosheen Nasir, a consultant specialising in infectious diseases at Aga Khan University Hospital, confirmed on 12 March 2022 that, “So far, transmission of lumpy skin disease to humans has not been reported.”

The claims regarding viruses infecting poultry and in turn people in Sindh and Balochistan are false.

Virality

According to a CrowdTangle analysis conducted by Soch Fact Check, the search term “مرغیوں میں وائرس “ and ”مرغیوں میں خطرناک وائرس” turned up 4,783 interactions across 261 posts and 471 interactions across 15 posts on Facebook, respectively, over the 30-day period leading up to 17 March 2022.

Concerning the first search term, the results revealed that Balochistan TV’s post received 85 likes, 143 shares and is also doing five times better than other similar posts. 

Facebook page Doctor’s post received 342 likes and 231 shares meanwhile Quetta News’ post received 109 likes and 221 shares. 

Concerning the second search term, Nisar Mani’s post received 16 likes and 37 shares. 

The claim was also shared on 8 March 2022 by some websites such as MM News and Jasarat with the headlines; “مرغیوں میں بھی انسانی صحت کیلئے مضر”فزولا“وائر س پھیلنے لگا and “کراچی :مرغیوں میں انسانی صحت کیلئے مضر’’فزولا‘‘وائر س پھیلنے لگا”, respectively. 

Conclusion: While Lumpy Skin Disease has been found in animals in Sindh and Punjab, the virus has not infected poultry across Pakistan. The transmission of LSD to humans has not been reported thus far. Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus has  not recently been detected in poultry either.

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