Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is caused by infection with the tick-borne Nairovirus. The disease was first documented in the Crimea in 1944 and later recognized in 1969 as the cause of illness in the Congo. Humans are infected by tick bites or close contact with contagious mammals. The disease begins with influenza-like symptoms but can develop into a very serious condition with a high (up to 50 percent) mortality rate. The disease occurs primarily in Africa and Asia, but it has recently been documented in new areas in southern Europe.
The new study involved a multidisciplinary team of bird and tick experts, molecular biologists, virologists, and infectious disease physicians from Uppsala University and other Swedish research institutes.
“This is the first time ticks infected with this virus have been found on migratory birds. This provides us with an entirely new explanation of how this disease, as well as other tick-borne diseases, has spread to new areas,” noted Erik Salaneck, one of the authors of the study.
The study also notes that while the Hyalomma tick that spreads the disease prefers warmer latitudes; it is likely to move further northward as Europe’s climate warms.
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