Urgent warning over deadly virus spreading across Europe ‘biggest threat to public health’ | Science | News

An urgent health warning has been issued after a deadly disease has spread across Europe in what has been described as the biggest threat to public health.

Called Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), the disease has recently broken out in Iraq and Namibia.

Meanwhile, Pakistani officials have reported two deaths as a result of CCHF.

And scientists have warned that it was “highly likely” the disease could soon reach Britain, according to insiders speaking to Parliament’s Science, Innovation and Technology Committee last week.

During the hearing, James Wood, head of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, said CCHF may travel to British shores “through our ticks at some point”.

The disease is caused by Nairovirus, a condition that is spread by ticks and according to the World Health Organization (WHO) one that has a grim fatality rate of between 10 and 40 percent.

Typically the condition is found at small stages in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and in Asia.

So far, no recorded outbreaks in the US have been reported.

But in a worry for scientists, the disease could be expanding out of its usual territories and moving towards the likes of Britain and France due to climate change.

Speaking about the disease, Ali Mirazimi, a virologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in an April interview with Modern Diplomacy that the ticks were “moving up through Europe due to climate change, with longer and drier summers

The likes of Spain were already seeing cases of the disease, Newsweek reported.

WHO notes CCHF is among the nine “priority diseases” it ranks, a system that lays bare the biggest public health risks.

Among the virus’ symptoms include headaches, high fever, back and joint pain, stomach ache and vomiting.

In severe cases, WHO warns, jaundice, mood swings and sensory perception are encountered.

Iraq was reportedly in a major battle with the disease last year, with 212 incidents recorded between January 1 and May 22.

Of those, 169 were reported between April and May alone.

Agence France-Presse added in May that almost 100 additional cases – and 13 deaths – were so far in 2023 attributed to the toll in Iraq.


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