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Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases

Pathogen of the Month



February Pathogen of the Month:

Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever


What is it?Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever

Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever is a disease that causes severe bleeding in humans and animals. The virus, which is carried by ticks, kills 10 to 40 percent of its victims. It can also be transmitted to people through direct contact with infected animal blood or tissues. Human-to-human transmission is possible due to close contact with secretions from infected persons. Symptoms include fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain, headache and light sensitivity. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea also occur.

Distribution Map

Where is Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever?

CCHF is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and various Asian countries south ofthe 50th parallel north -- the present geographical limit of the principal tick vector. It has not yet established an ongoing presence in Western Europe, although researchers believe that could happen absent effective control strategies.  The hosts of the CCHF virus include a wide range of wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats. For this reason, animal herders, hunters, livestock workers and slaughterhouse workers are viewed as being particularly at risk.

 Is it a threat to humans?

Very much so. In January of 2018, an outbreak of what is known in Africa as 'Bleeding Eye Fever' killed four and infected dozens in South Sudan, Uganda and other areas of east Africa. In South Sudan, health chiefs warned that the spread could be "catastrophic". Up to 60 people were suspected to be infected, and were undergoing tests by a team from the Sudanese health ministry and the World Health Organization. It is difficult to prevent or control CCHF infection in animals as the tick-animal-tick cycle usually goes unnoticed and the infection in domestic animals is usually not apparent. Furthermore, the tick vectors are numerous and widespread, so tick control with chemicals is only a realistic option for well-managed livestock production facilities. In a possible response to climate change, tick vectors also appear to be moving westward from their historical distributions toward wetter environments.

What is CEEZAD doing about Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever?

CEEZAD scientists have partnered with and support the research of Dr. Huseyin Yilmaz, a veterinarian at Istanbul Veterinary School in Turkey, whose work includes research into the epidemiology of CCHF.

Sources: World Health Organization, Centers For Disease Control, slideshare.net.


January Pathogen of the Month:

Avian Influenza

What is it?

Avian influenza is the infection of birds with the Type A strain of the influenza virus. This virus is endemic worldwide, and can infect both domestic and wild avian species. Avian influenza A is very contagious among birds via nasal, salivary or fecal secretions. With particular respect to domestic birds, avian influenza is a concern for several reasons. The most significant is the potential economic impact on the food animal chain. A second reason is the potential for trade restrictions put into place out of concern for such economic impact. The third reason is the possibility that avian influenza A viruses could be transmitted to humans.

Where is avian influenzaChickens

Outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported worldwide. In December of 2017 alone, there were significant outbreaks in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia and Netherlands.

Its economic impact

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that since 2003, global losses from avian influenza outbreaks have run into the billions of dollars.  That economic impact depends on the speed with which it is controlled, the extent of its spread, the role played by poultry in the GDP of the affected nation, and the structure of the poultry sector. A 2003 outbreak resulted in the deaths of 44 million birds in Vietnam and 29 million in Thailand, respectively 17.5 and 14.5 percent of those nations’ bird populations.

In the United States, a 2014-15 outbreak of avian influenza affected a reported 49.7 million birds from 211 commercial flocks and 21 backyard flocks, mostly but not entirely in Minnesota and Iowa. That outbreak caused an 11 percent reduction in the egg supply, increasing the cost of a dozen eggs from $1.36 in January to $2.06 in July.

How Infected Backyard Poultry Could Spread Bird Flu to People


Threat to humans

The CDC considers the risk of avian influenza to human health to be low at present. It recommends, however, that people should observe wild birds only from a distance, avoid contact with domestic birds that appear ill or that have died, and avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with fecal matter from wild or domestic birds.


What is CEEZAD doing about avian influenza?

Researchers supported by CEEZAD have developed live and inactivated Newcastle Disease virus-vectored vaccine candidates protecting chickens against the avian influenza virus. The vaccines were shown to be protective against novel H5NX strains for the recent outbreak in the U.S.


Sources: CEEZAD; Centers for Disease Control; Applied Commodity Price Analysis, Forecasting and Market Risk Management; Food and Agriculture Organization.