Iraq: Tick-borne ‘nosebleed virus’ kills 18 and continues to spread

nosebleed fever

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert on Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (Image: AFP/Getty)

A tick-borne viral infection causing “nosebleeds” is on the rise and has already claimed 18 lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns.

Formerly known as Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, it causes rapid and heavy internal and external bleeding, including through the nose.

It has been detected in 120 people in Iraq since January and at least 18 people have died so far.

WHO officials fear it is spreading at an unprecedented rate, but it is concentrated in southern Dhi Qar province.

The virus is picked up in ticks and people catch it by coming into contact with someone infected with animal blood, usually working with livestock or in slaughterhouses.

According to the WHO, heavy bleeding, fever, body aches, dizziness, neck pain, headache and sore eyes are all the main symptoms.

Sore throat, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting have also been noted in infected patients.

To combat the virus, Iraqi President Mustafa al-Kadimi has earmarked $1 billion to spray livestock farms with pesticides to kill ticks.

nosebleed virus

Doctors are working to help people sick with the virus (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

nosebleed virus

Pesticides are used to clean areas (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Tick ​​nosebleed virus

It’s a tick-borne virus (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Animal clinics have also been stocked with pesticides and people are being urged to only buy meat from licensed suppliers.

According to Ahmed Zouiten, the WHO representative in Iraq, the rise in cases could be due to the country’s failure to follow through with pesticide spraying campaigns in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid.

“We are not yet at the stage of an epidemic, but infections are higher than last year,” he said earlier this month.

“The procedures used by the various authorities are not up to date, especially with regard to unregulated slaughter.”

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Justin Scacco

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