Health officials have raised concerns about the spread of a new fever that has reportedly been causing people to bleed to death.
Authorities in Iraq say they have registered 120 infections with an emerging tick bone virus that has been spreading at an “unprecedented” rate in the country’s southern provinces.
Dubbed “nosebleed fever,” the virus, also known as Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, is known to cause severe symptoms in patients.
In some cases, sufferers have reportedly experienced internal and external bleeding — resulting in blood loss.
Iraqi officials say nearly a third of all deaths, estimated at about 18, have occurred in the past two weeks, raising fears of an uncontrollable outbreak.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), patients contract the virus after contact with the blood of infected animals – including ticks.
Artisans involved in the slaughter of livestock are considered to be most at risk.
Doctors say the infection often comes on suddenly, with symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, dizziness, neck pain, back pain, headaches, sore eyes, and photophobia (sensitivity to light).
There may also be early nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sore throat, followed by severe mood swings and confusion.
The disease has a relatively high mortality rate of about 30% due to the lack of a vaccine.
To combat ticks, which are believed to be at the heart of virus spread, Iraq’s agriculture minister announced on Thursday that veterinary clinics would be supplied with pesticides.
It came as the government urged citizens to only buy meat from licensed butchers, amid a major campaign promoting livestock and barn spraying.
Several provinces have now banned the movement of livestock across their borders.
Ahmed Zouiten, the World Health Organization representative in Iraq, said the rise in cases could be attributed to the lack of livestock spraying campaigns during Covid in 2020 and 2021.
But there are growing concerns that a major outbreak is imminent due to July’s Eid al-Adha celebrations, when families traditionally slaughter an animal to feed guests.
Symptoms of “Nosebleed Fever”
WHO reveals symptoms of ‘noseblood fever’
- Onset of symptoms is sudden, with fever, muscle pain, dizziness, neck pain, back pain, headache, sore eyes, and photophobia (sensitivity to light).
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sore throat can occur early, followed by severe mood swings and confusion.
- After two to four days, excitement can be replaced by drowsiness, depression, and abdominal pain.
- There is currently no vaccine available
“With the increase in animal slaughter and increased contact with meat, there is concern that the number of cases will increase during Eid,” said Azhar al-Assadi, a doctor specializing in hematological diseases.
Health Ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr told Agence France-Presse that they “have not yet reached the stage of an epidemic, but infections are higher than last year”.
He continued: “The procedures used by the various authorities are not up to date, especially in relation to unregulated slaughter.”
Governor Omed Xoshnaw of the Iraqi city of Erbil wrote a Facebook post urging Iraqis to stay away from the “very dangerous disease.”
He banned animals from being slaughtered or moved out of town without veterinary inspection.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/5462203/soaring-cases-nose-bleed-fever-sparks-fears-outbreak/ Rising cases of fever that are causing people to bleed to death are raising fears