Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever
What is Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever?
Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is an acute viral disease with an incubation period of 1 to 3 days following infection by a tick bite. Patients usually present with sudden onset of fever, malaise, dizziness, headache, and sore eyes. There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. There is usually evidence of hepatitis, and severely ill patients may experience rapid kidney deterioration, liver failure or pulmonary failure. The mortality rate from CCHF is approximately 30%.
How does it spread?
Humans are usually infected by bite of infective adult ticks. Health care workers can be infected through exposure to blood and secretions of patients. Infection is also associated with butchering infected animals.
CCHF is endemic in all of Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and in Asia.
How can you prevent it?
There is currently no safe and effective vaccine widely available for human use. Travellers going to the villages or forests of endemic areas can be at risk of contracting the disease. They should adopt measures similar to anti-mosquito measures to avoid tick bite, and avoid contact with wild animals.
How is it treated?
General supportive care with treatment of symptoms is the main approach to managing CCHF in people. The antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat CCHF infection with apparent benefit. Both oral and intravenous formulations seem to be effective.
As the disease is highly infectious in the hospital setting, health care workers should adopt strict infection control practice in handling blood and secretions of infected patients.