By : Pune Pulse
October 28, 2023
Pune: France has reported its first case of a potentially deadly disease with a fatality rate of up to 40% among those infected.
Ticks carrying the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) have been found on the French border with Spain.
This disease, which is related to the well-known Ebola virus, is common in regions like Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Balkans. CCHF has been sporadically detected in southern parts of Western Europe, including Spain.
Climate change has raised concerns that this disease could spread further north into Europe, potentially putting even Britain at risk, as reported by the Daily Mail. The ticks, found to be carriers of this deadly disease, were collected from cattle in the Pyrénées Orientales region.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified CCHF as one of its nine priority diseases this year due to its potential threat. The primary mode of transmission to humans is through tick bites, although it can also be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids from infected individuals.
The early symptoms of CCHF closely resemble those of Ebola. Individuals who are infected may experience muscle pain, abdominal discomfort, a sore throat, and nausea. As the disease progresses, it can cause bleeding, typically from the nose or due to broken blood vessels in the eyes and skin.
Other symptoms include fever, dizziness, neck pain, back pain, headaches, eye soreness, and sensitivity to light. Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF). The main approach to treatment is to provide support to the patient until their body can fight off the infection.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), previous outbreaks of CCHF have reported mortality rates ranging from 10% to 40%. Health authorities in the UK have issued advisories for travellers to the affected region in France, emphasizing the importance of avoiding tick bites. Those engaging in activities like camping, hiking, or interacting with animals in the region are particularly at risk of being bitten by ticks.
While cases of CCHF have been previously reported in France, the individuals were infected in other countries. This recent discovery marks the first time that ticks within the country have been directly identified as carriers of the disease. In neighbouring Spain, multiple cases of CCHF infection in humans have been reported, with 12 cases identified between 2013 and August of the previous year, resulting in four deaths.
The first detection of ticks with CCHF in Spain dates back to 2010. The primary carrier for the transmission of CCHF to humans is the Hyalomma marginatum tick, which measures around 5 mm in length. This tick can be identified by its legs, which have two colours and feature whitish rings at the joints.
Professor James Wood, the head of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, has issued a warning about the potential spread of diseases like CCHF in the UK. The report highlights his concerns that initial outbreaks may go unnoticed due to the limited knowledge of UK medical professionals about this disease.