Congo Fever Threat: In India, Maharashtra has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases and people of the state are already struggling to fight against the viral disease. Amidst this ongoing crisis, another disease, Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), commonly known as the Congo fever has become a cause of concern for them.Also Read - What is Congo Fever? Why Maharashtra’s Palghar District on High Alert | All You Need to Know

An alert has been issued by the authorities in the Palaghar district of Maharashtra against Congo fever. They have said that cattle breeders, animal husbandry officials, and meat sellers especially need to take precautions as this disease is transmitted from one animal to another through ticks and affects humans when they either come in contact with the blood of an infected animal or eat its meat.

If not treated on time, Congo fever can cause the death of the affected person. Let’s know more about Congo fever, its origin, and deadly effects on humans.

According to the World Health Organisation, “Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever usually transmitted by ticks. It can also be contracted through contact with viraemic animal tissues (animal tissue where the virus has entered the bloodstream) during and immediately post-slaughter of animals.”

Congo fever was first discovered in Crimea in 1944 and was named Crimean haemorrhagic fever. Later in 1969, scientists discovered that the pathogen responsible for causing Crimean haemorrhagic fever and the one that caused illness in Congo in 1956 was the same. Hence, the name changed to Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever. As per WHO, CCHF is a great threat to the human population as it can lead to epidemics and its fatality ratio is 10 to 40 per cent.

Signs And Symptoms of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is characterised by symptoms including high fever, back pain, joint pain, headache, stomach pain, and vomiting. You can also experience signs like red eyes, a red throat, and red spots on the palate. In severe case of CCHF, a patient’s mood and sensory perception change. If not treated on time, CCHF can lead to severe nosebleed and uncontrollable bleeding at the injection site.

Diagnosis And Line of Treatment For Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever

Certain lab tests including antigen detection, serum neutralisation, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, RT-PCR, and virus isolation by cell culture help in the diagnosis of the Congo fever. For detecting the viral load in patients who contracted the infection a few days ago, RNA test is conducted.

Sadly, there is no specific treatment option available for Congo fever. Also, there is no vaccine available for use in animals. Therefore, doctors target the symptoms of the disease through medication. Majorly, antiviral drug ribavirin helps in this regard.

How to Reduce Risk of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever in People

Public awareness about Congo fever and its risk factors is the key to reduce the prevalence of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever people. To reduce the risk of a tick to human transmission of the infection, you should wear light coloured and protective clothing. You can also apply acaricides, chemicals that kill ticks on your clothes. Use tick repellent and avoid going to areas where the population of ticks is too much.

To reduce the risk of transmission of Congo fever from animals to humans, you must wear protective clothing while you are in an endemic area and handling animals especially when they are slaughtered or butchered. It is also advised to treat the animals with pesticides two weeks before slaughtering them.

To reduce the risk of transmission of the Congo fever from human to human, you need to avoid close contact with the people infected with CCHF and do not forget to wear protective equipment while taking care of ill people. Post that, do wash your hands properly.