New strain of tick-borne Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever raises concerns

Lyme disease affects people bitten by a tick carrying borreliosis.
For over 50 years, there has been an increase in tick populations in Europe, which is accompanied by a greater spread of the diseases they carry. (Illustration © Fotolia Mirkograul)

Covid-19, monkeypox and now… the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever ? A few days ago, scientists at Moscow’s Sechenov University announced the disturbing discovery of a new strain of this disease in southern Russia, reports the news agency. CAS.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever? It is a fatal disease in 10 to 40% of cases. If no cases have been observed in France, here is what we already know about this virus.

Ticks that cause the disease

It is a disease caused by a “Nairovirus” of the Bunyaviridae family. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is mainly transmitted to humans by ticks and livestock (cattle, sheep or even goats).

Contamination of animals occurs when they are bitten by infected ticks. The virus then persists for about a week in the bloodstream. Although, among ticks, several genera can be infected by the virus, the Hyalommma genus is the main vector.

A WHO report

Where were the cases reported?

The Middle East has been affected by the disease since the late 1970s, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Oman and Pakistan. More recently, cases are emerging in Sudan, Afghanistan and Iran, but also in southern Russia.

The disease has also been detected in Spain and Tunisia. Global warming, which would favor (in particular) the proliferation of ticks, could partly explain the multiplication of cases.

According to Russian researchers, the main and most dangerous symptom of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is internal bleeding.

There is no vaccine against this disease to date.

To date, there is no vaccine against the disease. The WHO indicates that treatment is limited to supportive symptomatic therapy. If you have symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.

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How is Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever transmitted?

The disease is transmitted by tick bites or by contact with the blood or tissues of infected animals, during or immediately after slaughter. Most cases have occurred in people working in the livestock sector, such as farmers, slaughterhouse workers or veterinarians.

Human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with blood, secretions, organs, or bodily fluids from infected individuals. Hospital infections can also occur due to poor sterilization of medical equipment, notes the WHO, reuse of needles and contamination of supplies.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

After a tick bite, the incubation period is usually one to three days, with a maximum of nine days. And the onset of symptoms is abrupt, with fever, myalgia (muscle pain), dizziness, stiff neck and pain, back pain, headache, eye sensitivity and photophobia (sensation of discomfort caused by light).

Sometimes we observe, at first, notes the WHO, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and sore throat, then sudden mood swings and confusion.

Other clinical signs have been reported: tachycardia (increased heart rate), lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes), petechial rash (rash caused by intracutaneous bleeding) on ​​the inner surfaces of the mucous membranes, such as in the mouth, throat and on the skin.

There are usually signs of hepatitis and the most severely affected individuals may develop rapid deterioration of kidney function, sudden liver or lung failure from the fifth day of illness onwards.

What is the WHO advice?

WHO recommends wearing protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants) and light colors so that ticks can be easily detected, using acaricides on clothing and repellents on skin and clothing, and regularly checking for ticks. carefully remove them if found.

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