Ebola-like tick death in Spain prompts “reinforced vigilance” in Portugal

An unprecedented Ebola-like death following a tick bite in Spain has led Portuguese health chiefs to reinforce vigilance at health centres in the centre of the country.

Noticiasaominuto explains this is national territory “closest to Spain” and thus the most likely to see patients who might become affected.

The death, which happened in August, was of a 60-year-old man who contracted Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever purportedly during a walk near Ávila, in the autonomous community of Castile and León.

While he was in hospital in Madrid, the victim also infected a nurse who was treating him, said the website, stressing that for now there have been no cases of this potentially deadly haemorrhagic fever on the Iberian Peninsula.

Maria João Alves, a specialist with REVIVE – the country’s network for vector vigilance – is quoted as having told Lusa that the disease has never been found on national territory – though the Spanish press suggests it was identified in the Estremadura region as far back as 2011.

For now, “dozens of people are being monitored” for having to come into contact with the two victims, while the nurse was admitted to an isolation ward at Hospital La Paz Carlos III and is still under treatment but reacting “favourably”.

A World Health Organisation factsheet sets the fatality rate of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic at “approximately 30%”.

“There is no vaccine available”, and the disease can be “transmitted to people from ticks and livestock animals”.

In other words, reinforced vigilance could spell the difference between life or death.

CCHF, as the WHO dubs the disease, is “endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asian countries south of the 50th parallel north – the geographical limit of the principal tick vector”.

Spain’s latest news may lead this factsheet to getting updated.

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