New strain of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever: what we know

New strain of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever: what we know

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A new strain of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever was discovered by scientists at Moscow’s Sechenov University in southern Russia on Tuesday (June 28th). The opportunity to take stock of this little-known disease transmitted mainly by ticks and fatal in 10 to 40% of cases.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is making headlines again. This disease can lead to liver or lung failure in the patient a few days after infection.

It is caused by a Nairovirus of the Bunyaviridae family and transmitted mainly by ticks and cattle.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is responsible for the death of 10 to 40% of affected subjects. Beyond animals, this pathology can be transmitted by humans via blood contact, secretions or bodily fluids.

A disease present in the 4 corners of the world

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.

On the European continent, the southern regions of Russia located on the borders of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Georgia are also confronted with cases of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.

The disease has recently appeared in Spain and Tunisia with, in particular, a case detected in the province of Salamanca (Spain) in May 2020.

An incubation period that varies from one to thirteen days

The incubation time varies depending on the type of contamination. If the latter is linked to the bite of a tick, its delay is one to three days on average, with a maximum of nine days.

On the other hand, if contamination follows contact with blood or secretions, the average incubation period is five to six days, with a maximum set at thirteen days.

Many and varied symptoms

The first symptoms described are nausea and possible vomiting, accompanied by diarrhea, sore throat and abdominal pain.

After two to four days, the abdominal pain migrates to the right upper quadrant with an increase in the volume of the liver that can be localized by simple palpation of the area.

Among the other symptoms highlighted, the onset of drowsiness, dizziness, headache, back and neck pain after a few days of contamination is common. Finally, eye sensitivity and light-related discomfort may develop after being infected with the disease.

Potentially serious effects

Among serious adverse effects, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and swelling of the lymph nodes (adenopathy) may occur in the event of complications.

Intercutaneous bleeding on the internal surfaces of the mucous membranes, such as the throat or the mouth, and on the skin may appear, giving way to hemorrhagic phenomena in the most extreme cases.

Finally, signs of hepatitis can appear and lead to hepatic or pulmonary insufficiency from the fifth day of contamination.

No vaccine available

No vaccine has yet been developed in humans to counter Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. To block its effects, medicine attacks the symptoms of the disease and relies mainly on an antiviral, ribavirin, administered intravenously or orally.

According to the WHO, the death of affected patients occurs during the second week after infection. Conversely, recovery takes place between nine and ten days after the date of contamination.

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