what it really means and how it affects us

  • 29

With a fatality rate of up to 40% and with no available vaccine for people or animals, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is not only the most widespread tick-borne viral hemorrhagic disease in the world, but also represents a major health risk. due to its epidemic potential. In this, Spain has played a central role: the first outbreak of the disease in all of Western Europe was suffered by us in 2016. Since then, the situation has continued to worsen.


The Age of Epidemics. It is obviously not an epidemic similar to the one we have experienced with the coronavirus; but we would be wrong to minimize the problem. Since the eighties of the last century, epidemic outbreaks have only grown, spurred by climate change, globalization, demographic changes, technological development and evolution. Logic tells us that the Crimea-Congo virus, due to the characteristics of its transmission, is not going to cause massive outbreaks: but it is a wake-up call for us to take seriously a problem that has only just begun.

What is Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF)? It is a disease caused by a virus of the *Bunyaviridae* family and transmitted by ticks. It was discovered in Crimea in the 1940s and is widespread in countries south of the 50th parallel. As its name suggests, it causes serious outbreaks of viral haemorrhagic fever and has a fatality rate of between 10 and 40%. The first symptoms after a tick bite are relatively common (fever, muscle pain, dizziness and neck stiffness) so, if there is no previous concern about this type of disease, it could go unnoticed in its initial phase. Within a few days, these pains may give way to detectable hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) and, in severely ill patients, rapid renal deterioration, or sudden hepatic or pulmonary failure after the fifth day of illness.

Crimea-Congo in Spain. In fact, the Spanish history of this virus is very clear in this regard: the first case of hemorrhagic fever was in 2013, but we were not able to identify it until almost 10 years later. We were only aware that we had the virus at home until more than 200 professionals from the Gregorio Marañón and Infanta Leonor hospitals in Madrid had to be quarantined due to an outbreak that killed the initial patient and seriously ill a health worker.

Since then, doubts about the real scope of the disease in the country have been a recurring question and the cases and reported cases to the National Epidemiological Surveillance Network a slow trickle (with several fatal outcomes). For this reason, several researchers CIBER Infectious Diseasesuniversities and ministries they have made the largest map of the problem made to date. To do this, 12,584 ticks have been collected throughout the national territory and the virus was searched for using molecular methods.

“Very widespread in Spain” “We detected the virus in 135 puddles in most of the regions studied, which indicates that it is widespread in Spain. We found sequences of genotypes I, III and IV of the CCHF virus in the collected tick species, most commonly in Hyalomma lusitanicum, which suggests that this tick has a prominent role in the natural cycle of the virus. Red deer (Cervus elaphus) was the host that most frequently shed positive ticks. explained in the journal ‘Emerging infectious diseases’.

Should we be worried? Worry, as we have learned over the years, is quite a relative thing. Now we know that the Crimea-Congo is present at least in Andalusia, Extremadura, Madrid, Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha; Moreover, we are certain that it is an emerging disease in our country and that we are being very ineffective in containing it. As I said, it is another dress rehearsal of how infectious diseases have entered a period of accelerated globalization that we don’t know where it will take us.

With a fatality rate of up to 40% and with no available vaccine for people or animals, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever…

With a fatality rate of up to 40% and with no available vaccine for people or animals, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.