After Sars-CoV-2 and the monkeypox virus, another dangerous pathogen has been detected in Europe. The virus causes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. A man in Spain must therefore be transferred at great expense.
In Spain it is Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, also under the English name Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, also known as CCHF, has been diagnosed in a man. This is reported by several media in the country. The authorities moved the infected man under the greatest security precautions shortly after the diagnosis.
The patient was transferred by Air Force aircraft from a hospital in Leon to the University Hospital in Donostia-San Sebastián, around 300 kilometers away. The hospital has an appropriate isolation ward with high safety standards. This is to prevent the infection from spreading further. Despite the clinical severity of the disease, the man was “in a stable condition,” the authorities said, according to the regional newspaper “El Diario Vasco”.
The infection, which can lead to life-threatening hemorrhagic Crimean-Congo fever, is primarily triggered in humans after a tick bite. Grass-eating domestic and wild animals such as cows, sheep, goats or rabbits also serve as hosts for the pathogen. Humans can also become infected through contact with the saliva, blood or flesh of infected animals. Human-to-human transmission is also possible. Contact with infected people should therefore be avoided.
Symptoms and multiple organ failure
The Crimean-Congo virus is one of the most dangerous pathogens in the world. At the same time, experts assume that up to 90 percent of infections are completely symptom-free. However, if Crimean-Congo fever occurs, drastic symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle and body aches, nausea and vomiting, and reddening of the face and throat develop within a short time.
As an additional complication, life-threatening internal bleeding, known as haemorrhage, occurs in around 30 percent of those infected. Then intestinal and skin bleeding can occur and even the eyes can be affected by bleeding. Patients who develop these symptoms often die of multi-organ failure within the second or third week of illness. However, anyone who survives infection with the Crimean-Congo virus gains some immunity to the virus.
According to the World Health Organization, the dangerous disease is fatal for around 30 percent of those infected. The infection in the sick man in Spain was apparently also triggered by a tick bite. So far there is neither a vaccination nor an effective standard therapy against CCHF. In addition, the spread of the virus seems to have changed in recent decades. The pathogen was originally localized in southern Europe, Asia, the Near and Middle East and Africa.
Known since 1956
Diseases with the characteristic symptoms had already been documented on the island of Crimea in the 1940s. However, the pathogen only got its name when the virus was first isolated from human blood in Congo in 1956.
In Spain, the pathogen was first detected in ticks in Cáceres in 2010. The first human cases were diagnosed in 2016. Three cases were reported from Salamanca in 2020 and two more cases from Salamanca and León in 2021. However, the number of unreported infections could be much higher.