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The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that more than 250 cases of Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) and more than 35 deaths have been recorded in all governorates of the country, since the beginning of 2023.

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Spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Health, Saif Al-Badr, said “the highest number of hemorrhagic fever infections was recorded in Dhi Qar Governorate, with 67 cases, including 10 deaths, followed by Basra, Maysan, Al-Rusafa side of Baghdad, Al-Muthanna, Wasit, Babil, and Al-Karkh side of Baghdad.”

He added, “There are suspected cases, but we do not include them in the statistics if they are not confirmed.”

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%.

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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.