Explained: What Is The Deadly Nose-Bleed Fever Spreading In Iraq

The alarming situation in Iraq rose due to the outbreak of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) that is jumping from animals to humans.

By Talibuddin Khan
Tue, 31 May 2022 07:53 PM IST
Minute Read
Explained: What Is The Deadly Nose-Bleed Fever Spreading In Iraq
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New Delhi | Jagran World Desk: Iraq is in the middle of another life-threatening infection with an exponential surge in cases of fever that causes people to bleed to death. Health workers across the country have started to target blood-sucking ticks present in the body of cattle with pesticides. The alarming situation in Iraq rose due to the outbreak of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) that is jumping from animals to humans.

As per the report by the news agency AFP, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that Iraq has so far recorded 19 deaths due to the virus and has so far detected 111 cases of CCHF in humans. The health experts have flagged the CCHF and said that the onset of the deadly virus can be swift but it causes death in as many as two-fifths of total infections.

According to a health official in Iraq's Dhi Qar province, which is a poor farming region in Southern Iraq, accounts for nearly half of the total CCHF cases in Iraq. "The number of cases recorded is unprecedented," AFP quoted Haidar Hantouche, a health official, as saying. "In previous years, cases could be counted on the fingers of one hand, Hantouche added.

What is CCHF?

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a zoonotic disease transmitted by ticks with a high mortality rate in humans. It is known to cause uncontrolled bleeding, intense fever and vomiting. It is the most widespread type of viral tick-transmitted haemorrhagic fever, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and it can be up to 30 per cent fatal for those hospitalised.

The disease was first found in Crimea in 1944 and given the name Crimean hemorrhagic fever. It was then later recognized in 1969 as the cause of illness in the Congo, thus resulting in the current name of the disease. CCHF is endemic in all of Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia, according to the WHO.

What are its symptoms?

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC), the onset of CCHF is sudden, with initial signs and symptoms including:

High fever
Back pain
Joint pain
Stomach pain
Red eyes
A flushed face
Red throat
Petechiae (red spots) on the palate.

How it is transmitted?

Transmitted by ticks, hosts of the virus include both wild and farmed animals such as buffalo, cattle, goats and sheep. As per the WHO, animals become infected by the bite of infected ticks. In humans, the virus can be contracted through contact with viraemic animal tissues (animal tissue where the virus has entered the bloodstream) during and immediately post-slaughter of animals.

Since the virus is "primarily transmitted" to people via ticks on livestock, most cases are among farmers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians, the WHO said. "Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons," it added.

Is there any vaccine?

The CCHF virus has no vaccine widely available for human or animal use. "The only way to reduce infection in people is by raising awareness of the risk factors and educating people about the measures they can take to reduce exposure to the virus", the WHO said.

General supportive care with treatment of symptoms is the main approach to managing the CCHF in people. The antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat CCHF infection with apparent benefit. Meanwhile, the European CDC recommends that “seroprevalence studies” — to measure the level of a disease-causing agent in a population, as measured in blood serum — be conducted in humans, wild animals and domestic animals.


(With AFP Inputs)

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