Photo: WHO

WHO: 86 people die of Crimean-Congo fever in Afghanistan this year

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that the number of deaths from Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in Afghanistan this year has increased to 86.

In a report on Thursday, WHO stated that 15 new cases of CCHF were confirmed in the 31st week of this year, and 1 death was reported.

Additionally, 76 suspected cases and 7 deaths were added to the cumulative number of cases and deaths due to backlog. This brings the total number of suspected CCHF cases and associated deaths to 806 and 86, respectively, since the beginning of 2023.

The report states that deaths caused by CCHF have been registered in at least 14 provinces of Afghanistan, with Kabul accounting for 50% of cases (43) and Balkh province accounting for 15.1% of deaths (13).

Among the 805 CCHF patients, 99.9% are over five years old, and at least 30.4% of the patients are women.

CCHF 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.

The 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.