Congo Fever: Patient dies in hospital

Royal Free Hospital in London The 38-year-old patient was transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in London

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A 38-year-old man who contracted Crimean-Congo Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (CCVHF) has died in hospital.

The man was diagnosed with the rare tropical disease after flying into Glasgow on Tuesday. He was returning from Kabul in Afghanistan.

He was transferred on Friday to the Royal Free Hospital in London on a special RAF isolation aircraft.

A spokesman for the hospital confirmed on Saturday morning that the man had died.

The Royal Free Hospital houses the national specialist centre for the management of patients with hazardous infections.

It is the first case of CCVHF to have been confirmed in the UK.

The patient had originally been admitted to the specialist Brownlee unit in Glasgow's Gartnavel General Hospital less than three hours after returning to the city on Emirates flight EK027 from Dubai.

He had driven home from Glasgow Airport using his own vehicle before seeking medical help.

Two passengers sitting close to him on the flight from Dubai are being monitored as a precaution.

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.

But a further two passengers who were also contacted by health authorities do not require any follow-up, Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board has said.

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 has said the risk to all other passengers was "extremely low" but advised anyone with concerns to contact NHS 24.

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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