Cases of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Have Been Found in Spain

October 24, 2016
Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever isn't new. However, due to recent events it's best to be informed of all the possible facts about this disease. For instance, one fact about this virus is that it's only transmitted through direct contact.

On the 25th of August 2016, a 62-year-old man from Madrid, Spain, died from Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF). As a result of this, alarm bells began to ring. Two years later another man from the Spanish community of Extremadura also died.

The news reached the media and suddenly people were finding out about an illness that almost nobody had heard about.

Having said that, we have to remember that Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever isn’t new. In fact, it has appeared in Spain before.

Despite the troubling news, experts told Spaniards to remain calm. Moreover, even though many people have compared this disease to Ebola, there’s no reason to come to this unjustified conclusion.

In these cases, the most important thing is to have all the available information in order to know what to expect.

Below, we’ll provide the most pertinent information about Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, in case it spreads to other places like the USA.

Read more: 6 Vaccinations You Should Get

What is Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever?

The World Heath Organization (WHO) defines this disease as a type of viral hemorrhagic fever, which has a fatality rate of up to 40%.

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever around the world.

 

Here’s what we know about Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever:

  • It’s a type of virus that originates from the Bunyaviridae family
  • It’s spread by ticks, mosquitoes, rodents and also through direct contact with infected livestock.
  • The disease can be transmitted between people only when there is direct contact with the blood, body secretions or other body fluids of the infected.

Airborne contamination is not an issue. In other words, this disease doesn’t pass through the air, but through liquids.

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever is an endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia, and is common in countries located below 50 degrees north latitude.

What are the symptoms of this illness?

  • There’s an incubation period of 3 days after a tick bites someone, or after they touch the blood or other fluids of an animal infected with this virus.
  • After this, the infected individual starts to experience fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, dizziness, neck stiffness and sensitivity to light.
  • Other symptoms are liver and spleen swelling (hepatomegaly), which also includes swelling of the lymph nodes, hemorrhages, a high temperature, and confusion.

As we’ve mentioned before, the mortality rate of  Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever is about 40%. Many patients die in the second week after contracting this illness, but those who get better already show positive signs of recovery by the 9th day.

Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine for this illness. Nonetheless, there are very few cases where this disease fully develops.

A man taking his temperature.

Should I be worried?

The short answer is no. As experts have told us, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is not easily transmitted. Furthermore, this is not its first appearance in a country like Spain.

  • For instance, in 2011 experts found the bacteria present in this illness in deer population in Cáceres, Spain.
  • In addition, we must remember that this virus only fully develops in human beings and not in animals. Therefore, we don’t see any visible symptoms in animals such as deer, cows, pigs, rats etc.
  • This is why the group of people most at risk of contracting this disease are those who work in direct contact with livestock.
  • Nevertheless, given that there are veterinary checks on farms, it’s not very common for this virus to spread far.

The truth is that none of us is often in direct contact with bodily secretions and excretions. However, health professionals and farm and slaughterhouse workers are undoubtedly at a higher risk of contracting this disease.

In summary, we must remain calm, and simply keep ourselves informed about Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.

See more: WHO Declares World Emergency Due to Zika Virus

How did this virus reach Spain?

Medical professionals from Hospital Carlos III in Madrid say that viruses are already a daily risk that we face.

For example, international travel, animal importation, and the globalized world we live in create an environment that bacteria and infectious agents from other countries can easily move in.

A hospital with blood samples.

In the case we mentioned, the hospital followed all protocols and monitored the 190 people who could have had contact with the infected patient.

Can Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever be treated?

As we pointed out at the beginning, there’s no vaccine for this virus. However, it is possible to treat it.

  • Doctors are using ribavirin to treat the infection and the results have been highly satisfactory, so far.

Finally, it’s important to point out that the patient mentioned at the beginning of this article may have died because of a previous health condition or a very weak immune system.