Erbil records suspected case of Congo fever: health official

File – Kurdish medical workers are pictured outside Rzgari Hospital in Erbil

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Authorities in the Kurdistan Region on Saturday announced a suspected case of Congo fever in Erbil province.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) mainly strikes farm and slaughterhouse workers. The disease normally occurs through bites from infected ticks or from direct contact with infected blood and tissue from livestock. Human to human transmission, through exposure to contaminated blood, is more rare.

General Director of Health in Erbil Dr. Dlovan Mohammed said a child, who is years and nine months old, had visited Erbil from Baghdad to receive treatment but doctors suspected his disease to be “Congo fever”.

“Results of the child’s tests have yet to be confirmed,” he said in a press conference.

“The symptoms the child has is similar to the Congo fever, therefore, it is believed that it could be the disease,” he added.

Iraq has recorded eight deaths and 40 of the severe disease as of Friday, according to the health ministry. Most of the cases were registered in Dhi Qar province.

The disease has been endemic to Iraq since 1979, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). At times, small outbreaks have been reported, with the last outbreak happening in 2021 with 18 cases confirmed in Thi-qar and Ninawa Governorates.

There is no vaccine against the disease, which causes dizziness, high fever, muscle pain and vomiting. A body rash and bleeding from the bowels and gums, often accompanied by hepatitis and pulmonary failure, follow in severe cases.

According to the World Health organisation, CCHF can be treated but recovery is slow. If treatment is not provided in time, death can occur in the second week of illness.

The mortality rate can reach 30 percent from the disease, which was first identified in Crimea in 1944 and later appeared in Congo, according to Reuters.

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