Congo fever: Gujarat a ‘ticking’ bomb on High Alert
The Gujarat State administration put its health teams on alert on Tuesday as three cases of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) have been confirmed in Gujarat; two people have died of the fever so far. Currently, 21 cases are being investigated.

The disease, spread by a tick-borne virus, has been reported from Surendranagar and Ahmedabad. It’s a disease that has been leaping from animals to humans in Gujarat since 2011 and has the potential to explode to cause major health fatalities if gone unnoticed.

This ‘ticking’ bomb — the Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus — transmitted through the bite of Hyalomma tick is spreading fast across the state.

The authorities in Surendranagar confirmed that Lilu Sindhav, who died in a local hospital, had tested positive for CCHF. Another woman, identified only as Kuver, who is undergoing treatment at Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad has also been confirmed as a CCHF-positive case.

One of the largest studies undertaken by the state health department and ICMR-National Institute of Virology (NIV) has pointed out for the first time, human population in 11 of the 33 districts were immediately vulnerable to the CCHF disease.

The ‘seropositivity study’ spread over three years, 2015 to 2017, and involved 4,978 individuals. Blood samples from these individuals were tested for presence of Immunoglobulin G (IgG), the most abundant type of antibody, which is found in all body fluids and protects against bacterial and viral infections.

The study found Amreli district to be most vulnerable to the CCHF virus as 11 (CCHF survivors) of the 196 serum samples tested positive for IgG for CCHF virus. Similarly, in Aravalli district 3 of the 86 blood samples tested positive for the IgG-CCHF. In Rajkot and Kutch districts, there were two blood samples each that tested positive, while for the six other districts Devbhoomi Dwarka, Panchmahal, Morbi, Kheda, Anand and Surendranagar only a single individual tested positive for IgG-CCHF virus.

The serological study has opined there was an urgent need of assessment of CCHF prevalence in livestock and screening of ticks and nymphs for the presence of CCHFV to give a better understanding of identifying CCHF high-risk areas. The study conducted by experts from ICMR-NIV and Gujarat health department officials claimed that the risk for seropositivity increased seven-fold when a person was in contact or was the neighbour with a CCHF patient. Of the 25 individuals detected with the CCHF antibodies, 17 persons were close relatives, neighbours or were in constant contact with the virus affected person. “Five were neighbours of the infected person,” claims the study

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