Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)


  • Alert has been sounded about the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), an infection spread by ticks that has a high fatality rate, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    • In India, one person succumbed to CCHF last month in Gujarat, the state that reports the majority of the country’s cases of this disease.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)
Courtesy: CDC

What is Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)?

According to the WHO, “Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a viral haemorrhagic fever usually transmitted by ticks.

  • It can also be contracted through contact with viraemic animal tissues (animal tissue where the virus has entered the bloodstream) during and immediately post-slaughter of animals.
  • CCHF outbreaks constitute a threat to public health services as the virus can lead to epidemics, has a high case fatality ratio (10–40%), potentially results in hospital and health facility outbreaks, and is difficult to prevent and treat.”
  • The virus is present in the tick family of insects.
  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), animals such as cattle, goats, sheep and hares “serve as amplifying hosts for the virus.
  • Transmission to humans occurs through contact with infected ticks or animal blood.
  • CCHF can be transmitted from one infected human to another by contact with infectious blood or body fluids”, such as sweat and saliva.
  • The ticks can also be hosted by migratory birds, thus carrying the virus over long distances.
  • While the disease was first detected among soldiers in the Crimean Peninsula (near the Black Sea) in 1944, in 1969, it was found that an ailment identified in the Congo Basin was caused by the same pathogen.
    • Thus, the disease was named the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
  • CCHF symptoms include fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain, backache, headache, sore eyes and sensitivity to light.
  • There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion. After 2–4 days the agitation may be replaced by sleepiness, depression and lassitude.
  • There is no vaccine for the virus in either humans or animals, and treatment generally consists of managing symptoms.
  • According to the WHO, “the antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat CCHF infection with apparent benefit.”
  • The CCHF is endemic to Africa, the Balkan countries, Middle East, and parts of Asia. The first fatality from the disease in Europe was in Spain, in 2016.

Source: IE

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