A man in Spain who was bitten by a tick has been hospitalized and diagnosed with Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), a disease that can kill up to 40% of people who contract it.
The patient was first admitted to a local hospital in the town of Leon, in the northwest of the country. After being transferred to another hospital on board a military plane, the Spanish Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
“He has a tick bite and remains in stable condition, despite the clinical seriousness that this pathology entails,” said the health authorities of the Castile and Leon region in a press release.
The viral disease is found mainly in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia and more rarely in Europe.
In Europe, cases have so far been limited to the Balkans, Russia, Spain and Turkey – according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Some cases have been reported in the UK, with the latest case in March this year involving a woman who had traveled to Afghanistan. His is the third known case in the UK – following cases in 2012 and 2014, which did not spread to anyone else.
The disease was first detected in Crimea in 1944. It has a mortality rate of between 10 and 40%, with an overall mortality rate of 30%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Human-to-human transmission of the virus occurs through close contact with blood or bodily fluids, according to the WHO.
A tick bite or contact with the blood or tissues of infected animals can also transmit the disease.
The Hyalomma tick – the main vector of the disease – is not established in the UK and the virus has not been found in ticks native to the country.
The vast majority of cases of CCHF are mild or asymptomatic. But symptoms may include fever, bleeding from broken capillaries on the eyes and skin, sensitivity to light, muscle aches, dizziness, vomiting, nosebleeds, bruising and sore throat in the eyes. early stages, which could lead to organ failure and internal bleeding. .
Spain detected its first case of CCHF in 2011. In 2016, a Spaniard died after being diagnosed with the disease following a tick bite.
In 1969, some 25 years after it was first detected in Crimea, pathologists discovered that the disease was the same as that identified in Congo in 1956. Place names were then combined to give the virus its name.
Currently, the disease in a patient is managed with antiviral drugs, but there is no specific antiviral for CCHF or an approved vaccine.
Prevention, early diagnosis and isolation of a patient from others in healthcare facilities are the only ways to avoid the spread of the virus, the WHO and ECDC have said.