After two positive cases of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) from Jodhpur, an alert has been sounded in Rajasthan. Also known as Congo fever, it has caused scare among the people after two more suspected cases have been admitted to the hospital.

According to state Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma, “Two suspected patients of Congo fever have been found in Jodhpur and have been referred to a Ahmedabad hospital. Their samples have also been sent for thorough investigation and an alert has been issued by the Medical Department in the state.”

Looking at the epidemic potential of CCHF causing high fatalities Dr Narottam Mishra, Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO), Jaipur said,”A letter has been issued to all health centres to remain alert about this. The medical officials have been asked to collect samples if there is any element of suspicion,” said Dr Narottam Mishra, Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO).”

Dr S Banerjee from Sawai Man Singh Hospital, Jaipur said,”In case of Congo fever, the samples are sent to a lab in Hyderabad and the reports generally take a minimum of four days. At present, the Jodhpur teams are monitoring the outbreak and if more cases emerge then a team from our hospital will get involved.”

Due to similarity in symptoms with Dengue, fever Congo fever is very difficult to diagnose.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), “Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever transmitted by ticks. It can be responsible for severe outbreaks in humans but it is not pathogenic for ruminants, their amplifying host.”

WHO further states about the history of the disease, “The disease was first described in the Crimea in 1944 and given the name Crimean haemorrhagic fever. In 1969, it was recognized that the pathogen causing Crimean haemorrhagic fever was the same as that responsible for an  illness identified in 1956 in the Congo, and linkage of the two place names resulted in the current name for the disease and the virus.”

Those involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians are at greater risk because it could be spread by ticks.

The Ministry officials also shared information on scrub typhus, 560 cases of which have been reported in Rajasthan this year. In fact, some 200 scrub typhus cases have been reported in Jaipur alone.

Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, is spread through bites of infected chiggers (larval mites) and its symptoms include fever, headache, bodyache and rashes.

Rajasthan tops the chart in diseases, including swine flu, scrub typhus and dengue with 5,052 cases of these fevers reported in the state this year, leading to the death of 206 patients.

According to WHO, “CCHF is endemic in all of Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and in Asia”.