Public Health England has confirmed a case of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in a UK traveller who was bitten by a tick while on holiday in Bulgaria.
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 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 PHE’s Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory 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.”
The patient is responding well to treatment, a PHE statement said.