New Delhi: Further
research needs to be done to come up with an antidote to the
Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) that has claimed at least
three lives in Gujarat, a senior health official has said.
"We have suggested some strong anti-viral drugs to counter the
symptoms, but more research will have to be done on the blood
samples collected to come up with an absolute solution," Doctor
A.C. Mishra, director of National Institute of Virology (NIV),
"We have also suggested isolation of patients and usage of masks
for doctors and other medical staff treating the patients as well
as for the relatives of patients. This is a must as the virus is
highly infectious," Mishra told IANS over phone from Pune.
"The virus that has so far killed three people in Gujarat is a
category 4 virus, the most dangerous of all," Mishra added.
Three people died in Gujarat's Sanand early January in the
country's first reported attack of the Congo virus.
The three deaths are of Amina Momin, Gagan Senke, the doctor who
treated her at a hospital in Ahmedabad, and a nurse in attendance.
Since then, three more patients, who include Amina's husband
Rehman and a male nurse, are undergoing treatment in the isolation
ward, besides another female patient, said Dr M.M. Prabhakar,
superintendent of Ahmedabad's Civil Hospital.
BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad has been designated as the
dedicated hospital for isolation and treatment of suspected cases.
Its dean Dr Bharat Shah, when contacted, refused comment.
The Pune-based NIV is testing 132 samples received from Gujarat,
of which 58 samples were found negative, reports said.
The Gujarat government is screening the Sanand area where the
infection was first reported.
In its initial report, the NIV has said the Congo Virus has the
potential of killing 20 to 90 percent people. The virus causes
multi-organ failure and affects the brain, triggering epileptic
convulsions and death.
Dr V.M. Katoch, director general of Indian Council for Medical
Research (ICMR), said: "Antibodies in animals have been seen,
which show that the virus is present in the country."
The Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) first came to light in
1944, when it infected over 200 Soviet military personnel who were
assisting peasants in war-devastated Crimea in Ukraine.
Since then the infection has been surfacing in Africa, Europe and
Asia, with outbreaks being recorded in Kosovo, Albania, Iran,
Pakistan, South Africa and now for the first time in India.
CCHF is a a tick-borne viral disease. Ticks are blood-sucking
parasites often found in tall grass where they wait to attach to a
passing host, an animal. Although CCHF causes a mild fever in the
animal briefly, the effect is severe in humans.
Examples of similar infections include rabies that infect humans
through a dog or monkey bite. Anthrax infects ruminants (grass
eaters) namely goats, cattle, sheep and horses and can be
transmitted to humans by contact with infected specimens or their
According to Dr Nata Menabde, World Health Organisation's
representative in India, the presence of CCHF in the country is
not unexpected because cases have been reported in neighbouring
The Financial Daily of Pakistan has reported that the first CCHF
suspected case in the country surfaced Sep 14, 2010.
Since then, 5,000 more such patients have been hospitalised, of
whom 3,000 were tested positive by the NIH (National Institute of
Health) in Pakistan, the report said.
Initial human symptoms of CCHF include fever, aching muscles,
dizziness, stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and
sensitivity to light. They may be followed by nausea, vomiting and
sore throat, later diarrhoea and abdominal pain, according to
Over the next few days, the patient experiences mood swings,
becoming confused and aggressive. Gradually, sleepiness,
depression and langour may replace restlessness with localised
abdominal pain and an enlarged liver. The liver, kidney and lung
may fail after the fifth day of illness.
Outbreaks are usually attributable to humans handling infected
animals and people. Clusters of illness typically appear after
people treat, butcher or eat infected livestock, particularly
ruminants and ostriches.
As a precautionary measure, US Army personnel maintain special
stocks of ribavirin to protect themselves from the infection in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
Significantly, CCHF is also listed as a "potential bioterrorism
agent," classified as a Category C Disease/Agents by the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the US,
according to globalsecurity.org.
"These emerging pathogens could be engineered for mass
dissemination in the future because of availability, ease of
production, dissemination and potential for high mortality rates
and major health impact," the website said.