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What is Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus? Symptoms/Precautions

One and half year back, we saw attack of swine flu virus in India and now, it is turn of Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus because three deaths are being confirmed from Gujarat State of India due to this virus. It is very uncommon virus and there is no earlier report of its spread in India so far. In 1944 and 1945, first incidence of 200 deaths from this virus was reported in Crimea. So far incidences of spread of this virus are reported from countries like Kosovo, Albania, Iran, Pakistan, and South Africa.

In 1969, scientists established that virus spread in Congo in 1956 was a same virus spread in Crimean; so, new name Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever emerged. This infection in humans is usually caused by bit of Hyalomma tick found in domestic and wild animals. The main virus causing CCHF is a Nairovirus, a group of viruses from Bunyaviridae family of viruses. After getting infected with virus first flu like symptoms appear in patients in 1 to 3 days.

In majority of patients (up to 80%) hemorrhage signs appear in next 2 to 3 days. First symptoms of this disease start with dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and then can lead to mental confusion, sleeplessness, nosebleeds, liver enlargement, bloody urine and vomiting, and black stools. Sometimes acute symptoms like kidney failure and shocks can occur in patients. Most of TV channels are creating panic by reporting 90% mortality with this disease; however, WHO report 30% mortality with this disease. For treatment of CCHF patients, WHO recommend anti viral drug ribavirin (available both in oral and intravenous form).

Only prevention method available is killing ticks by spraying acaricides chemical. People working with livestock need to take extra precautions so that they should not come in contact of ticks. Specimens of blood or tissues of CCHF patients should be taken with proper precaution because this infection can spread by touching these tissues or blood samples.

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