Soaring cases of fever that causes people to bleed to death sparks fears


HEALTH officials have raised concerns over the spread of a new fever that has allegedly caused people to bleed to death.

Authorities in Iraq say they have recorded 120 infections of an emerging tick bone virus, which has been spreading throughout the country’s southern provinces at an “unprecedented” rate.

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A virus dubbed ‘nose bleed fever’ is said to be sweeping Iraq’s southern provincesCredit: Getty
The country has recorded 120 cases of the virus so far

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The country has recorded 120 cases of the virus so farCredit: AFP

Dubbed the “nose bleed fever,” the virus, also called Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, has been known to cause severe symptoms in patients.

In some cases, sufferers have reportedly encountered internal and external haemorrhaging – resulting in blood loss.

Iraqi officials say that almost one third of all deaths, thought to be around 18, have come in the last two weeks, sparking fears of an uncontainable outbreak.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) patients become infected with the virus following contact with the blood of infected animals – including ticks.

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Tradesmen involved in the slaughtering of livestock are thought to be most at risk.

Doctors say that infection is often sudden with symptoms including fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain, backache, headache, sore eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light).

There may also be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion.

The disease has a relatively high death rate of approximately 30% due to the absence of a vaccine.

On Thursday, in a bid to combat ticks thought to be at the centre of the virus spread, Iraq’s agriculture minister announced that veterinary clinics would be provided with pesticides.

It came as the government urged citizens to only buy meat from licensed butchers amid a large campaign encouraging the spraying of livestock and barns.

Meanwhile, several provinces have banned livestock movement across their borders.

Ahmed Zouiten, the World Health Organisation’s representative in Iraq, said the uptick in cases could be attributed to an absence of livestock-spraying campaigns during Covid in 2020 and 2021.

However, concerns grow that a large outbreak is on its way due to Eid al-Adha celebrations in July when families traditionally slaughter an animal to feed guests.

Symptoms of ‘nose bleed fever’

The WHO reveal symptoms of ‘nose bleed fever’

  • Onset of symptoms is sudden, with fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain, backache, headache, sore eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light).
  • There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion.
  • After two to four days, the agitation may be replaced by sleepiness, depression and result in abdominal pain.
  • There is currently no available vaccine

“With the increase in the slaughter of animals, and more contact with meat, there are fears of an increase in cases during Eid,” said Azhar al-Assadi, a doctor specialising in haematological diseases.

Health ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr told Agence France-Presse concluded that they have not yet “reached the stage of an epidemic, but the infections are higher than last year.”

He continued: “The procedures adopted by the different authorities are not up to par, particularly with regards to unregulated slaughters.”

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Governor Omed Xoshnaw from Iraqi city of Erbil wrote a Facebook post urging Iraqis to stay away from the “very dangerous disease.”

He prohibited animals from being slaughtered or moving outside the city without a vet check.





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