The death toll from the cruel “noseblood fever” rises to at least 18

“Nosebleed Fever” is as cruel as it sounds.

Technically known as Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, the tick-borne virus has been detected in about 120 people in Iraq since January – including 18 who have died from the disease – health officials warned amid fears of an escalating spread.

The onset of the disease causes rapid and severe internal and external bleeding, including through the nose, in infected patients, hence the nickname “noseblood fever”. Although the virus is hosted in ticks, most people pick it up by coming into contact with infected animal blood—usually those who work with livestock and in slaughterhouses.

The virus isn’t new, but it’s rare — and appears to be spreading across Iraq at an unprecedented rate.

Between 10 and 40 percent of cases die from the disease. Aside from heavy bleeding and potential death, early symptoms include fever, body aches, dizziness, neck pain, headache, and sore eyes. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat and brain fog have also been observed in infected patients, according to the World Health Organization.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi also allocated RSD 1 billion to spray pesticides on livestock farms to rid them of host ticks, particularly in southern Dhi Qar province – the current epicenter of the outbreak, of which more than half have been in recent ones cases have gone out. Meanwhile, veterinary clinics have also been issued with pesticides, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture, which is urging the country’s citizens to buy meat only from licensed suppliers.

health worker spraying pesticide at home
An Iraqi Health Ministry worker sprays pesticides around a house in Dhi Qar province – the current epicenter of the tick-borne Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic disease.
AFP via Getty Images

According to Ahmed Zouiten, the WHO representative in Iraq, the spike in nosebleed cases could be partly due to the country’s failure to enforce pesticide spraying campaigns in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seif al-Badr of Iraq’s Health Ministry told Agence France-Presse earlier this month: “We have not yet reached epidemic stage, but infections are higher than last year.”

He added: “The procedures used by the various authorities are not up to date, especially in relation to unregulated slaughter.” The death toll from the cruel “noseblood fever” rises to at least 18


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