A deadly virus known as Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) could soon reach the UK, sparking concerns about public health. What are the symptoms, and how to protect from it?
A dangerous viral infection, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), could soon reach the UK, warn health experts. CCHF is a severe illness that belongs to the family of Bunyaviridae viruses, and it is transmitted through ticks or contact with the blood of infected animals or humans.
During a session with Parliament’s Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, scientists emphasized the strong possibility of future cases of CCHF in the UK.
Climate change is making things worse
According to Professor Bryan Charleston, director of the Pirbright Institute, infectious diseases in animals are gradually moving northward. This is primarily due to the expansion of insect vectors’ habitats caused by climate change.
“From a European perspective, the insects are spreading more north and then the viruses that they carry tend to follow.
“So these two things we have to understand, the spread and the increased risk of these viral infections because of the slow march north of the vectors.”
During the meeting with MPs, Professor James Wood, the head of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, stated that the arrival of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever in the UK is highly likely, a prediction based on extensive research and analysis conducted by Professor Wood and his team.
“Some tick-borne infections, so Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, are highly likely to spread in the UK through our ticks at some point.”
Ticks carrying the virus are spreading “moving up through Europe due to climate change, with longer and drier summers,” according to Ali Mirazimi, a virologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, who was speaking to Modern Diplomacy in April.
While this news may sound worrisome, it is important to understand the virus, its symptoms, and how to take preventative measures to keep yourself safe.
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What is CCHF?
Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever is a viral infection that causes a severe illness characterised by bleeding, fever, and organ failure.
The virus was first identified in Crimea in 1944 and later in Congo, Africa, where it got its name. CCHF can be found in various parts of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe.
It is predominantly transmitted to humans through ticks, particularly the Hyalomma species.
How does CCHF spread?
CCHF can be transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. These ticks are commonly found on domestic and wild animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats.
When a tick bites an infected animal, it becomes a carrier of the virus. The virus can be passed on if this infected tick bites a human.
Additionally, direct contact with the blood or tissues of infected animals or humans can also lead to transmission. This usually occurs during animal slaughter or through contact with contaminated medical equipment.
What are the symptoms of CCHF?
The symptoms of CCHF usually appear within 1 to 3 days after being bitten by an infected tick or having contact with infected blood. Initially, flu-like symptoms may manifest, including fever, headache, muscle pain, and dizziness.