Treatment for CCHF is primarily supportive. Care should include careful attention to fluid balance and correction of electrolyte abnormalities, oxygenation and hemodynamic support, and appropriate treatment of secondary infections. The virus is sensitive in vitro to the antiviral drug ribavirin. It has been used in the treatment of CCHF patients reportedly with some benefit.
Who is at risk for the disease?
Animal herders, livestock workers, and slaughter houses in endemic areas are at risk of CCHF. Healthcare workers in endemic areas are at risk of infection through unprotected contact with infectious blood and body fluids. Individuals and international travelers with contact to livestock in endemic regions may also be exposed.
How is the disease prevented?
Agricultural workers and others working with animals should use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Insect repellants containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are the most effective in warding off ticks. Wearing gloves and other protective clothing is recommended. Individuals should also avoid contact with the blood and body fluids of livestock or humans who show symptoms of infection. It is important for healthcare workers to use proper infection control precautions to prevent occupational exposure.
An inactivated, mouse-brain derived vaccine against CCHF has been developed and is used on a small scale in Eastern Europe. However, there is no safe and effective vaccine widely available for human use.
What needs to be done to address the threat of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever?
Prevalence needs to be measured in animals and in at-risk humans in endemic areas; and a useful animal model needs to be developed. Further research is needed to determine the efficacy of specific treatment with ribavirin and other antiviral drugs, and develop a safe and effective vaccine for human use.