Turkey has been moderately successful in fighting the spread of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), a tick-borne viral disease that can be fatal for humans in some cases, according to latest figures from the Health Ministry.
According to Health Ministry data, the number of CCHF cases and CCHF-related deaths has fallen over the past year thanks to efforts on the part of health officials to promote awareness. There were 1,300 reported CCHF cases in 2012 and 50 deaths. In 2013, there were only 800 cases reported with 36 of these cases resulting in death.The first CCHF case reported in Turkey was in 2002. Since then, 5,000 people have been affected by the disease, and 500 people have died from it.
An awareness program launched by the Health Ministry and supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has finally borne fruit, according to health officials. TÜBİTAK researchers have established that there are 46 tick species native to Turkey, and 38 of them can act as CCHF virus hosts. A map of high-risk areas in Turkey was drawn up, which showed the provinces as Gümüşhane, Tokat, Sivas, Amasya, Çorum, Yozgat, Kastamonu, Karabük and Çankırı as the most vulnerable.The ministry’s efforts have focused on prevention and awareness, as there are only symptomatic treatments available for CCHF. Work to increase awareness of CCHF will continue in high-risk areas, according to Professor Seçil Özkan, head of the Health Ministry’s Public Health Agency. Özkan said this year the agency was planning to stop the distribution of “tick cards,” a special card to help remove ticks, as experience has shown that locals often do not carry the card with them. She said light-colored socks, which make it easier to spot ticks, and similar items could be distributed in the future.
Experts say the risk of developing CCHF is reduced significantly if a tick is discovered and removed from the skin in the first 13 hours after receiving a bite.