Monsoon brings in various viruses, bacterial infections and unfortunately it is also the season for some serious health conditions to rear its ugly heads.

One such fever that recently struck Rajasthan’s Jodhpur and Jaisalmer are Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever that claimed 2 lives and keeping health authorities on tenterhooks.

congo fever in monsoons

Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral fever transmitted through tick bites. The disease was first identified in Crimean in 1944, hence named as Crimean haemorrhagic fever. A similar pathogen causing haemorrhagic fever was also discovered in 1969 in Congo, linking the two names of places, the fever derives its current name as Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

CCFH spreads to humans either by tick bites or contacted through infected animal tissues or blood during or immediately post-slaughter. The outbreak of this haemorrhagic fever is a hazard to humans as it is epidemic with a high fatality rate of 40% and a high risk of nosocomial outbreaks which are difficult to treat and prevent. CCFH is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Asian countries.

In India CCFH was first reported in the year 2011, with an outbreak of virus and antibodies was diagnosed in humans and animals in Gujarat. Most of the cases were identified in people working in the livestock industry, farmers, slaughter workers and veterinarians. It is also transmitted through close contact with an infected person via blood, secretions and other bodily fluids. The chance of hospital-acquired infections can also happen due to lack of hygiene and sterilization of diagnostic equipment, needle reuse and contaminated food and supplies.

Symptoms

The length of growth period of CCFH depends upon the mode of virus transmission. The incubation period caused due to tick bites is 1-3 days, with a maximum period of 9 days. If CCFH is caused due to contact with infected animal tissues the incubation period is 3-6 days, with a maximum duration of 13 days. The onset of symptoms is rapid and common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches and back and knee pain
  • Dizziness as in the case of vertigo
  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Eye rashes
  • Photophobia
  • Abdominal cramp as in case of constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting

The patient may also complain about mood swings, insomnia, depression, severe abdominal pain in the upper right quadrant due to liver enlargement. In severe cases, clinical signs include tachycardia, enlarged lymph nodes, bleeding of the skin, and haemorrhage. In more serious cases of CCFH hepatitis, kidney damage and sudden liver or lung failure develop after the fifth day of illness. The death rate of CCFH is about 30%, which happens if the fever continues for more than two weeks.

Diagnosis And Treatment

The doctors diagnose CCFH virus by doing the following blood tests which include: Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent assay (ELISA), antigen detection, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assay and cell culture. RNA detection in blood and tissue sample are also done to diagnose CCFH.

Treatment generally involves providing basic supportive care for the patient. Antiviral drug is prescribed to treat CCFH and both oral and intravenous formulation are also given.

Prevention

There are no vaccines available for preventing virus attack in both humans and animals. The ideal way to lower the spread of infection is to raise awareness among people about the risk of infection and educating people about the preventive measure to lessen the exposure of the virus.

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