Photo: WHO

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever is on the rise in Afghanistan, WHO warns

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that cases of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) are surging across Afghanistan.

WHO said in a Persian tweet on Monday about the prevalence of CCHF that is increasing throughout the country and shared preventive measures to ward off the tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) that causes the disease.

WHO has advised people working with animals, including agricultural workers, to use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing, and to wear gloves and other protective clothing when contacting animals.

The measures also recommend that individuals avoid contact with the blood and body fluids of livestock or humans who show symptoms of infection. They have also suggested that people maintain proper hygiene and use proper infection control precautions to prevent occupational exposure.

In a recent report highlighting infectious disease outbreaks in Afghanistan, WHO said 47 people have died from CCHF since the beginning of 2023.

In the first months of this year, 30 new cases of CCHF were identified, bringing the total number of positive cases in 32 provinces to 494. The majority of cases (99.8%) were among individuals over the age of 5, with 28.5% of cases being females.

The provinces with the most positive CCHF cases are Kandahar, Helmand, Balkh, and Kabul.

These concerns are compounded because there is no vaccine or therapeutic for CCHF and Afghanistan lacks adequate public health infrastructure in preventing, detecting, and containing cases.

The Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans through hard ticks bites or direct contact with the blood of infected animals. Health experts say that the cases of Congo disease increase every year during the Eid al-Adha in Afghanistan. Symptoms include headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, and vomiting.