All you need to know about Congo virus

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Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever, commonly known as Congo fever, is a viral disease that spreads through tick bites. The virus infects wild as well as domestic animals like sheep and cattle.

Humans are infected when they come in direct contact with blood or tissues from infected animals or bites of infected ticks. Crushing of infected tick could also result in infection. The infection spreads to other people if they come in contact with the patient’s infected blood or body fluids.

According to Agha Khan Hospital, Congo virus does not survive high temperatures, and well-cooked meat does not pose any risk of transmission of the virus.

What are ticks?

Ticks are scientifically classified as Arachnida (a classification that includes spiders). Ticks require blood meals to complete their complex life cycles.

Tick

Symptoms

A person infected with the virus may show general symptoms like high fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, sore eyes and loose motions. He may suffer from severe bleeding, jaundice, and photophobia (sensitivity to light).

If you experience any of the above symptoms and suspect that you may have been exposed to, or if you work in an environment where Congo virus is likely present, seek medical advice immediately.

Prevention

  • Reducing the risk of tick-to-human transmission:
    • Wear protective clothing (long sleeves, long trousers)
    • Wear light-colored clothing to allow easy detection of ticks on the clothes
    • Use approved repellent on the skin and clothing
    • Regularly examine clothing and skin for ticks; if found, remove them safely
    • Avoid areas where ticks are abundant and seasons when they are most active.
  • Reducing the risk of animal-to-human transmission:
    • Wear gloves and other protective clothing while handling animals notably during slaughtering and butchering procedures.
    • Routinely treat animals with pesticides two weeks prior to slaughter.
  • Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission in the community:
    • Avoid close physical contact with CCHF-infected people;
    • Wear gloves and protective equipment when taking care of ill people;
    • Wash hands regularly after caring for or visiting ill people.
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