Iraq witnesses ‘unprecedented’ surge in deadly nose-bleed fever

Spraying a cow with pesticides, health workers target blood-sucking ticks at the heart of Iraq’s worst detected outbreak of a fever that causes people to bleed to death. The sight of the health workers, dressed in full protective kit, is one that has become common in the Iraqi countryside, as the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever spreads, jumping from animals to humans.

This year Iraq has recorded 19 deaths among 111 CCHF cases in humans, according to WHO. The virus has no vaccine and onset can be swift, causing severe bleeding both internally and externally and especially from the nose. It causes death in as many as two-fifths of cases, according to medics.

Animals become infected by the bite of infected ticks. The CCHF virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter. Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.

16 cases resulting in seven deaths had been recorded in 2021, but this year Dhi Qar has recorded 43 cases, including eight deaths. Endemic in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans, CCHF’s fatality rate is between 10 and 40 percent, the WHO says. Most of those infected were around 33 years old, although their age ranges from 12 to 75. Most cases are among farmers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians.

Alongside uncontrolled bleeding, the virus causes intense fever and vomiting. Medics fear there may be an explosion of cases following the Muslim festival of Eid Al Adha in July when families traditionally slaughter an animal to feed guests.

Authorities have put in place disinfection campaigns and are cracking down on abattoirs that do not follow hygiene protocols. Several provinces have also banned livestock movement across their borders.


Daily Tribune

Related Articles

Back to top button