After Nipah, Avian influenza and pandemic influenza, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) has kept authorities and administration on toes. Cases of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur and Jaisalmer has alerted state government. 134 blood samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune for examination after two deaths due to Congo fever. The virus which gets transmitted through ticks and livestock transmission or contact with blood or tissues of infected animals or humans, and has fatality rate of up to 40 per cent.
The widespread disease is caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) of the Bunyaviridae family. Cattle, sheep and goats generally become hosts of CCHF. As per WHO, ''CCHF is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia, in countries south of the 50th parallel north''. Those involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians are more prone to the disease.
Virus is transmitted from human to human via blood, secretions, organs or bodily fluids of infected person. Improper sterilization of medical equipment, reuse of needles and contamination of medical supplies can be the reason for hospital-acquired infections.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
As per WHO, ''Symptoms of CCHF are fever, myalgia, (muscle ache), dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light). There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion''. Death generally occurs in the second week of illness.
''After two to four days, the agitation may be replaced by sleepiness, depression and lassitude, and the abdominal pain may localize to the upper right quadrant, with detectable hepatomegaly (liver enlargement). Other clinical signs include tachycardia (fast heart rate), lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes), and a petechial rash (a rash caused by bleeding into the skin) on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth and throat, and on the skin,'' WH's official website further mentions.
As per WHO, antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat CCHF infection. ''Both oral and intravenous formulations seem to be effective,'' writes WHO.
PREVENTION AND CONTROL
Preventing or controlling CCHF infection in animals is usually difficult because infection in domestic animals goes unnoticed. So far no vaccine is available for either humans or animals. Raising awareness and educating masses are the only way to prevent Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).