Europe is facing another virus of concern that experts believe has the potential to cause the next pandemic.
Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), a potentially deadly fever caused by a virus, has emerged as a disease on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of priority pathogens capable of triggering widespread outbreaks and pandemics, according to a report by Forbes.
The expansion of tick habitats, fueled by the warming environment resulting from climate change, has facilitated the spread of the nairovirus responsible for CCHF, particularly in more temperate regions of Europe. Spain, for example, experienced its first cases of the virus in 2011 and 2016.
What makes CCHF particularly dangerous is its “hemorrhagic” nature, which leads to profuse bleeding.
After approximately four days of exhibiting symptoms, the disease progresses to severe bruising, nosebleeds, and continuous bleeding from any part of the skin that is punctured by sharp objects such as needles.
During outbreaks, this bleeding can persist for up to two weeks, resulting in fatalities ranging from 9% to 50% among hospitalized patients.
Developing Solutions for CCHF and Priority Pathogens
Recovery from CCHF can be prolonged, as the bleeding does not cease upon overcoming the virus.
While there are currently no specific treatments for CCHF, the antiviral drug ribavirin is being studied as a potential treatment option.
In 2022, the WHO initiated a global scientific process to update its list of priority pathogens, targeting those that could cause outbreaks or pandemics.
This approach aims to direct global investments toward research and development, particularly in the creation of vaccines, tests, and treatments, to stay ahead of potential virus outbreaks.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, emphasized the importance of R&D investments in responding effectively to epidemics and pandemics, citing the rapid development of safe and effective vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic as a testament to the value of such investments.
By identifying priority pathogens and virus families, the WHO aims to guide the research community in focusing its efforts and resources on managing future threats.
The organization expressed gratitude to its donors, such as the US government, partners, and scientists, for their contributions in advancing these efforts.
As the risk of a potential pandemic looms, the WHO’s proactive approach underscores the need for global collaboration and investment in research and development to combat emerging infectious diseases.
Efforts to develop tests, treatments, and vaccines against CCHF and other priority pathogens are crucial in mitigating the impact of future outbreaks and safeguarding public health.
Source: International Business Times