The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), a virus spread through ticks, as the latest threat to human existence.
According to a report released by the organisation, the disease is caused by Nairovirus, a rapidly emerging group of tick-borne bunyaviruses commonly found in livestock. It also has a fatality rate of between 10 and 40 per cent.
The virus’ symptoms include severe headache, high fever, back and joint pain, stomach ache and vomiting.
Other symptoms are red eyes, a flushed face, a red throat and petechiae (red spots) on the palate. In severe cases, jaundice, mood swings and sensory perception are experienced.
Once the disease reaches a full-blown state, infected persons suffer severe bruising, nosebleeds and uncontrolled bleeding at injection sites.
The long-term effects of CCHF infection have not been studied well enough in survivors to determine whether or not specific complications exist. Recovery has been confirmed to be slow.
Human-to-human transmission can occur when physical contacts are made with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.
The virus is also transmitted to people when bites are suffered from ticks or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues immediately after they are slaughtered.
Hosts of CCHF include a wide range of wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and goats. So far, majority of the virus’ victims have been people involved in livestock farming.
Cases have been reported in Iraq, Namibia, Spain and Pakistan. Thirteen deaths have been recorded in Iraq alone in 2023. The disease, feared to be accelerated by climate change, has been described as the current biggest threat to public health.