Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is caused by infection with a tick-borne virus, a Nairovirus in the family Bunyaviridae. Wageningen Bioveterinary Research conducts research on this disease.
The disease was first characterized in the Crimea in 1944. It was then later recognized in 1969 as the cause of illness in the Congo, thus resulting in the current name of the disease. Evidence of CCHF virus has been found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Transmission through ticks
Ticks of the genus, Hyalomma, particularly Hyalomma marginatum are believed to be both a reservoir and a vector for the CCHF virus. The virus has been found in other Ixodid (hard) ticks although it is not clear whether they are able to transmit the virus.
Antibodies have been found in numerous wild and domestic animal species, such as cattle, goats, sheep and hares, which may serve as amplifying hosts for the virus.
The disease can affect humans
Sporadic cases and outbreaks of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever affecting humans do occur. Transmission to humans occurs through contact with infected blood or ticks. CCHF can be transmitted from one infected human to another by contact with infectious blood or body fluids. CCHF is a severe disease in humans, with a high mortality rate. Fortunately, human illness occurs infrequently, although animal infection may be more common.
The onset of CCHF is sudden, with initial signs and symptoms including headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, red eyes, and vomiting. As the illness progresses, large areas of severe bruising, and severe nosebleeds can be seen.