A woman in Cambridge, England has been diagnosed with deadly a tick-transmitted viral disease that is thought to be fatal in up to 40 per cent of cases detected in England, confirmed by health Chief today.
Health chiefs insisted that the risk to public health is low, as the disease is usually spread through bites from ticks that are not present in the UK and is not easily transmitted between people.
It is not clear where the woman had been travelling in Asia. But the UK’s only two other confirmed cases — one in 2012 and one in 2014 — were imported from Afghanistan and Bulgaria.
No onward transmission of the disease, which can cause bleeding from the eyes, was detected in the UK’s two previous cases.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at UK Health Security Agency, said the risk to the public is ‘very low’.
Between 10 and 40 per cent of confirmed cases die from the disease, usually in the second week of infection, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Health chiefs said the risk to public health is low, as the disease is usually spread through bites from ticks that are not present in the UK and is not easily transmitted between people. Pictured: stock image of tick
The patient was diagnosed at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is receiving specialist care at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
Dr Hopkins said: ‘It’s important to be aware that Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is usually spread by tick bites in countries where the disease is endemic, it does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the public is very low.
‘We are working with NHS EI to contact the individuals who have had close contact with the case prior to confirmation of their infection, to assess them as necessary and provide advice.
‘UKHSA and the NHS have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed.’
The disease is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with the blood or tissue of infected animals.
Symptoms of the virus come on suddenly and include fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and sensitivity to light.
People can also suffer nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion.
Other signs include rash in the mouth and throat, fast heart rate and enlarged lymph nodes.
Dr Sir Michael Jacobs, consultant in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London, said: ‘The Royal Free Hospital is a specialist centre for treating patients with viral infections such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
‘Our high level isolation unit is run by an expert team of doctors, nurses, therapists and laboratory staff and is designed to ensure we can safely treat patients with these kind of infections.’