July 12, 2023

New deadly virus CCHF spreading in Europe, Africa, Middle East

New deadly virus CCHF spreading in Europe, Africa, Middle East

By Biodun Busari

A deadly virus known as Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) feared to be the biggest threat to humanity is already running riot across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. 

The Mirror reported that CCHF broke out in Iraq and Namibia and there have been cases in Spain as well, with deaths recorded in Pakistan. 

It was reliably gathered that the virus is adversely gaining acceleration by climate change and an urgent health warning has been issued.

How CCHF spread

The World Health Organisation (WHO) disclosed that the virus spreads through ticks, and the disease is caused by Nairovirus.

It further said it has a fatality rate of between 10 and 40 per cent, adding that sources speaking to the British Parliament’s Science, Innovation and Technology Committee revealed it was “highly likely” there could soon be cases in the United Kingdom.

During the hearing, James Wood, head of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, said CCHF could find its way to the UK “through our ticks, at some point”. 

The disease is feared to be expanding out of its usual territories and moving towards the likes of Britain and France because of climate change, according to the Mirror.

Symptoms of CCHF

The virus’ symptoms include headache, high fever, back and joint pain, stomach ache, and vomiting. Red eyes, a flushed face, a red throat, and petechiae (red spots) on the palate are also common.

In severe cases, WHO warned that jaundice, mood swings and sensory perception are encountered. 

As the illness progresses, large areas of severe bruising, severe nosebleeds, and uncontrolled bleeding at injection sites can be seen, beginning on about the fourth day of illness and lasting for about two weeks.

In documented outbreaks of CCHF, fatality rates in hospitalised patients ranged from nine per cent to as high as 50 per cent. 

The long-term effects of CCHF infection have not been studied well enough in survivors to determine whether or not specific complications exist. However, recovery is slow.

How CCHF spread

According to the WHO, human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from “close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons”.

Meanwhile, emerging reports have unfortunately revealed that there is currently no vaccine available for either people or animals infected by the disease.

CCHF is transmitted to people by either bite from ticks or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues immediately after slaughter.

WHO also said the majority of cases have occurred in people engaged in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians.

Reported deaths

Iraq was reportedly in a major battle with the disease last year, with 212 incidents recorded between January 1 and May 22. Of those, 169 were reported between April and May alone.

Also, a report in May revealed that almost 100 additional cases – and 13 deaths – were so far in 2023 attributed to the toll in Iraq.