Tick Bite Death

Sunday, August 12, 2018
By Martin Myall

SPN Tick DeathJPGAround 100 people are under medical observation in Ávila after a man died of Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever, transmitted by a tick.

The 74-year-old man is the second person since 2016 in Spain to die from this disease, which is endemic to the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and some Balkan countries. It is, however, very rare in Western Europe.

The victim had been participating in a hunt on the 24th of July in Helechosa de los Montes (Badajoz) when he realised that he had been bitten by a tick. Some days later he began to feel ill and was hospitalised in Ávila.

The protocol for infectious diseases was immediately established, which requires the patient’s complete quarantine from other people, including medical staff, who have to wear protective clothing.

Blood samples were sent to the Centro Nacional de Microbiología belonging to the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, who confirmed that it was indeed the Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever that Ávila had on its hands.

This disease has no known cure so that the patient can only receive palliative care.

The 100-odd people under observation are those that have had direct contact with the man since the hunting trip. Two thirds of them are medical staff, either at the hospital or the clinical laboratories; the rest are family and friends.

They will continue to be under observation for at least two weeks, which is the incubation period of the disease – he was brought into hospital this Wednesday.

They have to report any signs of fever, muscle pains, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea – these are pre-hemorrhagic symptoms, which appear within four to five days of infection. After that there is bleeding into the skin.

The risk of death among those affected is between 10% and 40% and was first detected in the 1940s – amongst Soviet soldiers in 1944.

So, if you do go for walks in the campo, make sure you wear long trousers, no matter how hot it is. In fact, it’s better not to go for such walks in the summer, anyway.

Finally, the risk factor in Spain is considered “very low” so no need to pack your bags and flee the country.

(News: Avila, Castilla-Leon)

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