Turkey is set to become the first country to develop a vaccine for the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdağ said May 1, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Akdağ said the ministry has been working on the vaccine for the past seven to eight years with Erciyes University.
“This [vaccine] will be the first in the world. I met with a science committee a few days ago, they were very hopeful. We are near the end of the vaccine research. This will also be the first in the development of virus vaccines. We will develop an original virus vaccine in the next few years,” he said.
When asked about a person who died from the Congo fever in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum, Akdağ said the season made people more prone to the fatal disease.
“People in rural areas, especially where small and large animals are bred, should protect themselves from tick-bites. This is not difficult. If there’s a tick on someone’s body, this should be alarming. They should immediately contact medics. We are improving precautionary measures to protect people who live in these areas,” he said.
The CCHF is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus of the Bunyaviridae family, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The CCHF virus causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks, with a fatality rate of 10 to 40 percent.
CCHF is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asian countries south of the 50th parallel north – the geographical limit of the principal tick vector. The hosts of the CCHF virus include a wide range of wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and goats. Many birds are resistant to infection, but ostriches are susceptible and may show a high prevalence of infection in endemic areas, where they have been at the origin of human cases.
The length of the incubation period depends on the mode of acquisition of the virus. After infection by a tick bite, the incubation period is usually one to three days, with a maximum of nine days. The incubation period following contact with infected blood or tissues is usually five to six days, with a documented maximum of 13 days, according to the WHO.