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Iraq health officials reported Wednesday that the country has seen 377 Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) cases in the first six months of the year.

Image by tetracarbon from Pixabay (cropped)

In a statement from he Ministry of Health: The Minister of Health indicated in a press conference that 377 cases of hemorrhagic fever were recorded in Iraq, and deaths amounted to 14% (which would be 53 fatalities) of the infection rate, “noting that” deaths are still below the specified global levels. 

The minister stated the importance of the role of the media in spreading awareness and the dangers of hemorrhagic fever, emphasizing the wearing of protective tools to control cases and the need for early visit to health institutions when having symptoms.

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%.

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.

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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.

The virus is widespread in some countries of Africa and Asia, in the Balkans, the Middle East and in the south of the European part of Russia.