A rare disease known as Congo fever has claimed its first victims in India, officials said on Wednesday, after a patient, her doctor and a nurse all died in the western state of Gujarat.
The deadly virus, which has the full name Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), is found in Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe, and is normally spread by ticks.
"A woman was admitted to a private hospital here in the first week of January with high fever, abdominal pain and vomiting," Paresh Dave, Gujarat's assistant director of health, said.
"The hospital could not diagnose the disease and after few days she died."The doctor treating the 30-year-old woman died last week and the staff nurse died on Tuesday, he said.Samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, which confirmed CCHF.
A doctor who declined to be named said the deaths were India's first recorded Congo fever fatalities.Specialist teams from the NIV have flown to Gujarat to monitor any further outbreak of the disease, which can be passed between animals and humans.It has mortality rate of 30 percent in humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Health experts have started surveillance in the villages around where the first victim lived, but no more confirmed cases have yet been found."We have formed a task force which will draw up detailed protocol of prevention and treatment of the CCHF," Gujarat health minister Jaynarayn Vyas told reporters.
"The orders have been communicated to all hospitals."WHO said most CCHF cases occur in people in close contact with animals, such as farmers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians. The disease's full name comes from its having been identified in the Crimea in 1944 and in 1956 in the Congo.