Iraq records increase in Congo fever infection, death toll

Iraq records increase in Congo fever infection, death toll
2 min read
18 May, 2022
Iraq is witnessing an increase in the infection as well as the death toll rates from the hemorrhagic fever on a daily basis, as the country tries to combat further spread of the endemic.
The first case of the Congo fever in the Iraqi Kurdistan has been recorded in Erbil. The infected person was working as a butcher; photo of a butchery shop in Sulaimaniayah city [TNA/Dana Taib Menmy]

Iraq so far has recorded more than fifty cases of the Crimean-Congo or hemorrhagic fever as well as 12 deaths, more than half of the patients fully recovered,  Saif al-Badr, spokesperson of the Iraqi health ministry confirmed recently. 

Southern Dhi Qar province has been mostly affected, recording 29 infections and six deaths as of May 6, according to statistics of the Iraqi health ministry.

The New Arab contacted Al-Badr for updates on the situation of the fever in Iraq , however, he was not immediately available to comment. 

Early in May the first case of the fever  was recorded in Kirkuk in a butcher shop, and ten days later the first case of the illness was recorded in Erbil, the capital city of the northern Kurdistan region. 

“The first case of Congo fever has been recorded in Erbil. The infected person was working as a butcher, and he is now  in good health. We have taken all prevention measures in order to contain further spread of the somehow dangerous fever,” Aso Hawezi, spokesperson of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) ministry of health, told The New Arab in a phone call. 

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Saman Barzinji, the KRG minister of health today told local media that the first patient has left hospital and another person from Sinjar has been infected with the fever.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus “causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks, have a case fatality rate of up to 40%. The virus is primarily transmitted to people from ticks and livestock animals.

Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.

“CCHF is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia, in countries south of the 50th parallel north. There is no vaccine available for either people or animals,” WHO notes.

Although the first case of the illness appeared in Iraq in 1979, the country could not eradicate it completely.