Crimean-Congo Fever alert: 12 cases detected in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
Congo Fever

BARCELONA – Amidst concerns about infectious diseases, public health experts in Spain are closely monitoring a new threat: Crimean-Congo Fever, also known as Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF).  

This viral disease, transmitted by ticks and infected animals, has instilled fear due to its severity and rapid spread. While Crimean-Congo Fever has been present in certain regions of the world for decades, its recent expansion into new geographic areas has raised concerns among specialists. 

Health experts in the UK are drawing attention to the virus responsible for Congo Crimean Fever and warning that this disease could pose a serious threat to the population. With reported cases in European countries like Spain and fatalities in regions of Africa and the Middle East, an urgent health alert has been issued. 

Climate change may accelerate the spread of the disease, increasing the risk of it reaching the UK through ticks. James Wood, head of veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge, has expressed concern about this possibility and stressed the need to be prepared for this potential threat to public health. 

Cases of Crimean-Congo Fever in Spain 

Cases of Crimean-Congo Fever have been detected in Spain during the year 2022, specifically in the El Bierzo region of the province of León. The Ministry of Health has confirmed the presence of two new cases, one of which was fatal. In 2021, a case of the disease was also diagnosed in a woman. 

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According to a report by ‘Europa Press’ in 2022, the risk of transmission of Crimean-Congo Fever in the El Bierzo region, as well as in other areas where the virus is circulating in ticks and infected animals, or where human cases have been reported, is considered moderate, especially among people with high exposure to tick bites. Moreover, for the rest of Spain, the risk is deemed “low”. 

12 cases in Spain 

Between 2013 and 2022, a total of 12 cases of this disease have been confirmed in Spain, 4 of which were fatal. These cases are distributed as follows: 1 in 2013 in Ávila, 2 in 2016 (one in Ávila and another in a medical worker), 2 in 2018 in Badajoz and Salamanca, 3 in 2020 in Salamanca, 2 in 2021 in Salamanca and León (El Bierzo region), and 2 cases registered in El Bierzo during the year 2022. 

Symptoms  

Symptoms of Crimean-Congo Fever usually include high fever, headache, muscle pain, and dizziness. Diarrhea, redness of the face, neck, and chest, eye congestion, and conjunctivitis may also occur. After 2 to 4 days, the hemorrhagic phase begins, with small red spots on the skin, larger bruises on the skin and mucous membranes, and bleeding in various parts of the body, such as the nose, digestive system, uterus, urinary tract, or respiratory system. Liver and kidney failure may also develop. 

Crucial to avoid tick bites 

In light of the seriousness of the disease and its potential impact on public health, health authorities are urging vigilance and preventive measures. It is crucial to avoid tick bites and take precautions when in contact with potentially infected animals. Individuals residing in areas where the disease is prevalent are advised to avoid prolonged exposure to ticks by wearing protective clothing and using insect repellents. 

Also read: High temperatures intensify pests and plagues in Spain 

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