Researchers from La Rioja, Spain have discovered the existence of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in a tick, indicating the potential risk of transmission to people.
The researchers are part of Spain’s Center for Rickettsiosis and Diseases Transmitted by Arthropod Vectors, led by Jose Antonio Oteo. This group has been evaluating the circulation of and risk for CCHF in Spain for the past three years. According to Oteo, the tick was found on a deer in Southern Spain, suggesting that ticks with the virus could be in other areas of the Iberian Peninsula.
CCHF was first found in Crimea in 1944 and later discovered as the cause of illness in the Congo, which is how it received its name. The virus can be found in Eastern Europe, northwestern China, central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, it has never before been found in Spain.
Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever is a virus commonly spread by the Hyalomma tick. Transmission of the virus is through infected blood or bodily fluids. Though it is primarily a zoonotic disease, it can be transmitted to humans.
Symptoms include headache, joint pain, stomach pain, red eyes and throat, mood swings, severe bruising and nose bleeds. The onset of symptoms is sudden and can last as long as two weeks.
CCHF has a mortality rate of approximately 30%. Patients diagnosed with the virus are hospitalized and usually receive blood replacement and antiviral drugs that have shown beneficial properties.
There is no safe vaccine for CCHF. In order to prevent the spread of CCHF, people, especially those handling animals, should use tick repellents and do routine checks for ticks on their bodies and clothing. According to the World Health Organization, CCHF has also been spread in a hospital setting when caring for patients with CCHF. To prevent nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections, health care providers should isolate CCHF patients and use extra precaution when treating them.