Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a viral
disease that spreads through tick bite. It was first described in Crimea
in 1944 and was called Crimean Hemorrhagic fever.
It was later also described in Congo, hence it was named Crimean-Congo
Hemorrhagic fever. The disease is more common in Africa, Asia, East
Europe and the Middle East. A recent outbreak has been reported in the
Indian State of Gujarat.
Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is caused by a virus belonging to
a group called Nairovirus. The virus infects wild as well as domestic
animals like sheep and cattle through tick bites. Humans are infected
when they come in direct contact with blood or tissues from infected
animals or bites of infected ticks.
Crushing of infected tick could also result in infection. Infection may
rarely occur if people breathe in the virus passed out in the infected
animal’s excreta. Thus, people who work in close contact with livestock
such as those working in agriculture, slaughterhouses and veterinary
hospitals are at a higher risk of acquiring the disease.
Once a human is affected, the infection spreads to other people if they
come in contact with the patient’s infected blood or body fluids.
Infection could also spread in hospitals during injections and surgical
procedures. Hospital staff that treat patients with CCHF are at a higher
risk for developing the infection.
A person cannot be infected by eating well-cooked infected meat since
the virus does not survive cooking.
The patient may show general symptoms like high fever, headache, joint
and muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain and loose motions. He may suffer
from severe bleeding, jaundice, convulsions, and coma.
CCHF is diagnosed using tests like ELISA, isolation of the virus,
antigen detection, and polymerase chain reaction. The patient is treated
with intravenous fluids and an antiviral drug ribavarin.
Adequate precautions should be taken to avoid being infected in
epidemics. People exposed to domestic animals or those undergoing
activities like hiking should wear protective gear to avoid tick bites.
Hospital staff should also take adequate precautions while treating
patients with the disease. Ribavarin may be administered to people
coming in close contact with patients.