The third case of Crimean-Congo fever in a year is a civil guard from…

A 51-year-old civil guard from the Nature Protection Service (Seprona), who died on June 19 of unknown causes that may be linked to the use of sulfur to sulphate his garden and diagnosed after his death, is the second case of a month, the third in a year, of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CHF) in El Bierzo, as confirmed by this newspaper in the entourage of the deceased after the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies made state Friday of the case.

The new record of the CCHF virus detected in Spain in recent weeks after the 49-year-old hunter from Ponferrada who remains hospitalized in San Sebastián University Hospital is another middle-aged man who, according to the Ministry of Health, is died in June “of unknown causes with suspected compound sulfur poisoning.” A month later, on July 20, the deceased was diagnosed “retrospectively” as suffering from fever transmitted by ticks of the genus Hyalomme and that it can also be transmitted from person to person through contact with blood or secretions. The family requested that an autopsy be performed on the deceased and that is why it was possible to know that he had contracted the disease even though he had not reported any bite, confirms his entourage.

El Bierzo had already recorded a previous case of Crimean-Congo fever contracted by a woman in June last year, making Officer Seprona’s case the third in a year and the second in a month. Three of the 12 cases recorded in Spain over the past decade have been recorded in the region.

49 year old hunter

Health confirmed Friday that it was the second case of the virus in a month detected in El Bierzo after the first affected, a 49-year-old hunter who began noticing symptoms on July 12 after a tick bite and who remains “in a stable situation” and “evolving favorably” in particular conditions of isolation at the University Hospital of San Sebastián.

With hemorrhagic shock

On July 20, the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences sent the National Center for Microbiology the blood samples of the environmental agent who died a month earlier at El Bierzo Hospital “with a probable diagnosis of 20% cuprocalcium sulphate poisoning, shock haemorrhagic and coagulopathy”, explains the Ministry of Health. The PCR was positive for Crimean-Congo fever and Health said there was no history of a tick bite, “but he had sulphated the orchard and 24 hours later he started having symptoms” . It was June 15. Doctors initially diagnosed him with a respiratory infection along with a headache that led to abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea. The patient was admitted on June 16 with severe coagulopathy, experienced progressive deterioration, and died three days later.

The Crimean-Congo virus is clinically manifested by fever, headaches, muscle pain “and in a few cases it evolves into severe forms with hemorrhagic manifestations”, reports the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies. CCHF has no specific treatment. Between 2013 and 2022, Health confirmed 12 cases of CCHF in Spain, with four deaths. Ávila, Salamanca and Badajoz are the other places where cases have been detected in the last decade, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health, which detected the circulation of the virus associated with ticks and wild and domestic animals in Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and Andalusia and lately also in Galicia and Catalonia.

El Biezo, low risk area

“The province of León, and in particular the region of Bierzo, is considered low risk, given the low presence of Hyalomma and the low prevalence of antibodies against the virus in wild and domestic animals in serological studies carried out, in which It has been about 1-2%, ”explains Health. The risk of more “sporadic cases” occurring in areas where the tick is present among the population exposed to its bites “is considered moderate”.

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