Congo Fever – Symptoms Diagnostic Tests, Treatments and Precautions for Congo Fever

Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever - CCHF

The Congo hemorrhagic fever is a tick-borne viral disease, originated from animals (both wild and domestic) that affects the human beings. This causative virus is a member of Bunyaviridae family of the RNA viruses.  Clinical disease is rare in infected animals but commonly severe in infected humans with a death rate of 30%. Out breaks of the disease are usually in those who handles infected animals or infected humans.

Sporadic infection of people is usually caused by Hyalomma tick bite. Clusters of illness typically appear after people treat, butcher or eat infected livestocks.  Outbreaks have occurred in clinical facilities where health workers have been exposed to infected blood and formites. 

This fever is usually found in Eastern Europe, Soutern Europe, through out the Mediterranean, in northwestern China, Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.

Symptoms of Congo fever

Congo hemorrhagic fever causes a flu-like illness that starts within 1-3 days of the tick bite. The initial symptoms are mild, but may become severe very quickly.

The most common initial symptoms of Congo hemorrhagic fever include:

  • Abdominal pain and back pain.
  • Body pain and multiple joint pains.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Anorexia
  • Weakness and malaise.
  • Red eyes and throat.
  • Flushed face.

After 3-5 days, signs and symptoms of hemorrhage may occur, including:

  • Blood in stool.
  • Blood in urine.
  • Skin lesions that look like bruises or broken vessels in the skin and palate.

Symptoms of severe Congo hemorrhagic fever include:

  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Excessive sleepiness or drowsiness.
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nosebleed
  • Abdominal swelling (liver enlargement).

Diagnostic Tests for Congo Fever

Sudden severe headache, chills, fever, vomiting and pain in muscle, the lower back and the upper abdomen are the commonest symptoms. Petechial hemorrhages are seen 3-5 days after symptoms appear.

  • Detection of antigens or antibody to the agent in the blood (serology);
  • Leukopenia;
  • Thrombocytopenia;
  • ELISA is available;
  • RT-PCR;
  • IgM capture assays help to differentiate bunyavirus infections;
  • Check for tick bites and possible exposure.

Treatments For Congo Fever

Treatments are primarily supportive. Care should include maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance, oxygenation and hemodynamic support and appropriate treatment of secondary infection.  The virus is sensitive to Ribavirin an anti-viral drug.

Precautions For Congo Fever:

Animals should be treated against ticks, insect repellants should be used, protective clothing should be worn to protect from tick bites. Only eat meat slaughtered at licensed slaughter houses. Eat properly cooked meat which can kill the virus.

Timely detection and proper medical treatments can cure this disease.

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