Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever in the UK

Source: Freepik

The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed a case of the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever in the country.

A woman in the UK is the country’s first case of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in almost a decade. This is only the third time that the rare disease has been reported in the country; one case occurred in 2012 and another in 2014. In a recent press release, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed the case and reported that the woman had recently travelled to Central Asia.

Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever was first discovered in 1944 in the Crimea. Spread by ticks, the viral disease is endemic in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Balkans. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has a case fatality rate of up to 40%. Transmission to humans can occur either via tick bites or contact with body fluids or organs of infected animals, especially after slaughter. Human-to-human transmission can also occur from contact with bodily fluids or organs of infected persons.

Symptoms include fever, headache, dizziness, muscle pain, sore eyes, and sensitivity to light. As the disease progresses, it can lead to sleepiness, liver enlargement, abdominal pain, enlarged lymph nodes, a petechial rash, and tachycardia. Treatment is generally supportive; however, the antiviral Ribavirin has helped treat infections in the past.

It’s important to be aware that CCHF is usually spread by tick bites in countries where the disease is endemic, it does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the public is very low.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA

According to Dr. Susan Hopkins, the Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA, the risk to the public remains low. The health agency is currently contacting the woman’s close contacts and monitoring them for any sign of infection. Moreover, they have listed down precautionary measures for travellers to avoid contact with ticks.

Source: UK Health Security Agency


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