Iraq is witnessing an outbreak of a deadly fever that causes people to bleed to death, with cases surging at an unprecedented rate. The disease, named Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, is spreading in the Iraqi countryside and has caused 19 deaths among 111 cases in humans this year. The disease reportedly has no vaccine and causes death in as many as two-fifth of the cases.
The hosts of the virus include both wild and farmed animals like buffalo, goats and sheep. “Animals become infected by the bite of infected ticks,” said WHO. “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,” it added.
The disease reportedly causes severe bleeding both internally and externally and especially from the nose of the patients. Alongside uncontrolled bleeding, the virus also causes intense fever and vomiting.
Ahmed Zouiten, WHO’s representative in Iraq, said there are several “hypotheses” for the outbreak of the virus in the country. They included the spread of ticks in the absence of livestock spraying campaigns during COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021. “Very cautiously, we attribute part of this outbreak to global warming, which has lengthened the period of multiplication of ticks,” he added.