Glasgow Crimean-Congo Viral Haemorrhagic Fever: Passengers monitored

C130 Hercules aircraft The 38-year-old patient was transferred to hospital in London on a special RAF isolation plane

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Two passengers who sat near a man who has Crimean-Congo Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (CCVHF) on a flight to Glasgow are being monitored as a precaution.

The 38-year-old man was earlier transferred to hospital in London in a special RAF isolation plane.

He had been in Kabul, Afghanistan, and was diagnosed hours after returning to Glasgow on Emirates flight EK027 from Dubai on Tuesday.

Two other passengers contacted do not require follow-up.

The man was transferred from the specialist Brownlee unit at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow to the Royal Free Hospital in London on Friday morning.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) initially said it wanted to contact three passengers thought to have sat near the man on the flight from Dubai.

The health board said a fourth passenger had now been identified as a possible contact of the patient and would be followed up on a daily basis, for two weeks, to monitor for any developments of relative symptoms.

One of the original three passengers is also being followed-up with daily monitoring. The other two do not require follow-up surveillance.

THE DISEASE

  • Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever is a viral fever transmitted from animals to humans by tick-bites or through direct contact with blood or infected tissues from livestock, particularly cattle, sheep, goats, and hares.
  • It kills between 10-40% of people infected.
  • It is rare - but incidence has risen over the past decade.
  • It is present in more than 30 countries in Eurasia and Africa, including northwestern China, central Asia, southern and eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
  • Initial symptoms include headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain and vomiting. Rarer signs include jaundice, severe bruising and uncontrolled bleeding.
  • An anti-viral drug called ribavirin is the most common treatment. There is no safe vaccine.
  • It was first described in the Crimea in 1944 and was found to be responsible for an illness in a human in Congo in 1956.

Public health consultant, Dr Syed Ahmed, who is coordinating the investigations into this case, said: "The risk of person to person transmission of Crimean Congo Viral Haemorrhagic Fever is very low as it can only be transmitted by direct contact with infected blood and body fluids.

"It is not a virus which is transmitted through the air.

"The monitoring of these two passengers is purely precautionary and is in line the national guidance for the management of cases such as this."

The health authority said the risk to all other passengers was "extremely low" and advised anyone with concerns to contact NHS 24.

This is the first case of CCVHF in the UK.

The man was stabilised overnight before being moved in specialist isolation facilities by air with the support of the Scottish Ambulance Service and the RAF.

The NHS 24 helpline number for anyone on flight number EK027 to call if they have concerns is 08000 85 85 31.

The helpline will be available between 08:00 and 22:00 seven days a week.

CCVHF is a zoonosis - a disease found in animals that can infect humans.

Outbreaks are usually linked to contact with blood or body fluids from infected animals or people.

Onset is sudden, with initial symptoms including high fever, joint pain, stomach pain, and vomiting.

Red eyes, a flushed face and red spots in the throat are also common.

As the illness progresses, patients can develop large areas of severe bruising, severe nosebleeds, and uncontrolled bleeding.

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