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'Congo fever' outbreak feared as Spaniard dies from tick bite

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'Congo fever' outbreak feared as Spaniard dies from tick bite
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a tick-borne virus. Photo: Microbe World (Callie Carr CDC) /Flickr
17:00 CEST+02:00
Health authorities in Spain have begun screening around 200 people after a rare, deadly virus known as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever killed a man and infected a nurse who treated him, officials said on Thursday.

A 62-year-old man died from the disease, also known as "Congo fever", at a Madrid hospital on August 25th, the regional Madrid government said in a statement.

He is believed to have become infected with the virus after he was bitten by a tick while walking in the countryside in the northwestern region of Castile and Leon.

A nurse who treated the man while he was in intensive care in hospital is infected and is being treated in isolation.   

Health authorities have identified around 200 people who were in contact with the man and the nurse and they are being monitored for symptoms of the deadly disease.

Public health workers are taking their temperature twice a day. Those who greater exposure to bodily fluids from the two infected patients have been ordered to remain at home.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a viral haemorrhagic fever transmitted by ticks from a range of livestock and domestic animals.    

Transmission to humans occurs through contact with infected animal blood or ticks. CCHF can be transmitted from one infected human to another by contact with infectious blood or body fluids.

The virus has been found among ticks in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe and southwestern Europe.   

In Europe cases of human infections have been reported from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The virus has a fatality rate of 10-40 percent. Symptoms include high fever, vomiting and abdominal pain but as the illness progresses, large areas of severe bruising and severe nosebleeds are also common.

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