Photo: WHO

WHO: 78 people die of Crimean-Congo fever in Afghanistan this year

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that at least 10 new cases of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) have been detected in Afghanistan between July 23 and 29, 2023. Two patients have died from the virus during this time period.

In its latest report, WHO stated that since the beginning of 2023, a total of 715 cases of CCHF have been reported in Afghanistan, and 78 people have died.

During the 29th week of 2023 (July 16 – 22), 34 new CCHF cases were identified, and 2 fatalities were reported.

The report states that deaths caused by CCHF have been registered in at least 18 provinces of Afghanistan, with Kabul accounting for 32.1% of cases (25) and Balkh province accounting for 21.8% of deaths (17).

Among the 715 CCHF patients, 99.9% are over five years old, and at least 29.4% of the patients are women.

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.

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 Hemorrhagic Fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans through hard ticks bites or direct contact with the blood of infected animals. Symptoms include headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, and vomiting.