Oh Good – This Deadly Tick-Borne Disease Is 'Very Likely' To Hit Britain

Here we go again.
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After living through the Covid-19 pandemic, the last thing we want is another infectious disease. Well, it seems that it might be our reality soon as a deadly disease that kills almost every second patient is about to come to the UK.

Great news, right? Scientists have warned MPs about the possible danger of new illnesses coming to the UK as the government tries to prepare for new pandemics.

The disease in question is called the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF). It has a mortality rate of up to 40% and is quite hard to prevent or treat, the World Health Organization said.

It’s spread through ticks or animal tissue and CCHF is on WHO’s list of ‘priority’ diseases. Currently, cases have been found in Eastern Europe and France.

The Science, Innovation and Technology Committee are worried that the infection might not be picked up by doctors in the NHS as they were previously not anticipated.

Professor Bryan Charleston, director of the Pirbright Institute, which studies infectious diseases in animals, explains that there was a “slow march north” of diseases.

Rift Valley fever is another disease that has several life-threatening strains for humans as well as breakbone fever which has the potential of arriving in the Uk due to the warmer weather.

“There are broadly two (points), one is that the insect vectors will move, greatly increasing the range of their habitat because of climate change and we are seeing that,” Charleston says.

Essentially, from a European perspective, insects are moving more towards the north and the viruses they carry tend to come after.

“Alternatively there are examples like blue tongue virus which we had in 2007 where the virus is brought in by some other route and the vectors we have are competent for those viruses,” he adds.

He continues: “So these two things we have to understand, the spread and the increased risk of these viral infections because of the slow march north of the vectors.”

Charleston went on to explain the risk to animals: “One of the viruses we do not want in the country is African horse sickness, it’s 80% mortality that could be spread by the midge that we have in the UK. This the awareness we need to have in terms of the risk assessment.”

It’s ‘highly likely’ that CCHF would arrive in the UK eventually but it’s hard to know which viruses will come and when, Prof James Wood, head of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, told MPs.

“We don’t know what is going to arrive until it does,” he says. “Some tick-borne infections, so Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, are highly likely to spread in the UK through our ticks at some point,” he adds.