Press release

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever case identified in UK

PHE is aware of a laboratory-confirmed case of CCHF in a UK traveller who was bitten by a tick while on holiday in Bulgaria.

The patient is responding well to treatment and there is no risk to the general population.

As a precautionary measure, close contacts of the patient, including hospital staff involved in the patient’s care, will be given health advice and encouraged to contact their GP if they experience symptoms.

Although Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) can be acquired from an infected person, this would require direct contact with their blood or body fluids and the risk even for close contacts is considered very low.

This is the second laboratory-confirmed case of CCHF in the UK, following the diagnosis in 2012 of CCHF in a UK resident who had recently returned from Afghanistan.

CCHF is the commonest viral haemorrhagic fever worldwide. It is not found in the UK but is endemic in many countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe, including Turkey and Bulgaria.

People most at risk are agricultural workers, healthcare workers and military personnel deployed to endemic areas. CCHF is most often transmitted by a tick bite but can also be spread through contact with infected patients or animals.

Dr Tim Brooks, Head of Public Health England’s (PHE’s) Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory (RIPL) said:

It’s extremely rare to see a case of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in the UK, and it’s important to note there is no risk to the general population. As a precaution, close contacts of the patient will be contacted and monitored, but the risk of transmission is very low and would require direct contact with bodily fluids.

Ends

Notes to editors

  • PHE is unable to disclose information on the hospital where this patient is being treated, due to patient confidentiality.
  • Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a viral haemorrhagic fever caused by a virus of the Nairovirus group. CCHF is a zoonosis, and infects a range of domestic and wild animals. It is spread via the bite of an infected tick. CCHF was first described in Crimea in 1944, among soldiers and agricultural workers, and in 1969 it was recognised that the virus causing the disease was identical to a virus isolated from a child in the Congo in 1956.
  • Symptoms of CCHF include fever, muscle aches, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and sensitivity to light. Nausea, vomiting and sore throat may also occur, with diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
  • CCHF should be not be confused with Ebola haemorrhagic fever and there is no connection between this incident and the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
  • Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. www.gov.uk/phe Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

Infections press office

PHE press office, infections
61 Colindale Avenue
London
NW9 5EQ