Erbil announces first case of Congo fever

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Authorities in Erbil on Tuesday announced the first case of Congo fever in the city.

In a statement, the directorate of health in Erbil said a 17-year-old resident had been infected with Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

“The citizen is a resident of Erbil city and under surveillance,” it added.

The suspected case that was announced earlier this week wasn’t Congo fever after the patient’s test results returned, it stated.

The severe disease 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.

Iraq had 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 Dhi Qar and Nineveh provinces.

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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