Afghanistan health officials have reported an increase in Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) cases in 2017, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) Weekly Epidemiological Monitor last week.
In 2017, a total of 237 cases of CCHF including 41 deaths (CFR: 17.2%) have been reported throughout 27 provinces. Majority of these cases-71 cases (nearly 30 percent) including 13 associated deaths (CFR: 18.3%), were reported from the capital city, Kabul.
Majority of CCHF cases and deaths in Afghanistan were recorded from June to September around the time of Eid Al-Adha (sacrifice feast in Islam).
The increase in the slaughtering of animals during this time period might have significantly increased the risk of CCHF virus transmission. This trend is consistent with the last outbreaks in the country.
According to the WHO, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) of the Bunyaviridae family. The CCHF virus causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks, with a case fatality rate of 10–40%.
CCHF is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asian countries south of the 50th parallel north – the geographical limit of the principal tick vector. The hosts of the CCHF virus include a wide range of wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and goats.
Animals become infected by the bite of infected ticks and the virus remains in their bloodstream for about one week after infection, allowing the tick-animal-tick cycle to continue when another tick bites. Although a number of tick genera are capable of becoming infected with CCHF virus, ticks of the genus Hyalomma are the principal vector.
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. The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians. Human-to-human transmission is possible.
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