Climate change may engender new 'deadly virus', scientists warn UK govt

It is difficult to prevent or treat as CCHF spreads by ticks or animal tissue. Scientist looking through a microscope. Representational image: Mongkolchon Akesin / Shutterstock

London: UK's scientists have warned about a new 'deadly virus' that kills nearly every second patient, as the country's government attempts to prepare for new pandemics.

The government's Science, Innovation and Technology Committee was informed of a 'highly likely' arrival of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) due to climate change, the Mirror reported.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), CCHF has a mortality rate of up to 40 per cent and is difficult to prevent or treat as it spreads by ticks or animal tissue.

It is also on the WHO's list of "priority" diseases, and it's found in eastern Europe and now France.

The scientists noted that CCHF infections may not be picked up by doctors in the NHS, as previously they hadn't been expected, the scientists informed the Committee.

Prof James Wood, head of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, told the committee that it was "highly likely" that CCHF would reach the UK at some point but it is difficult to know which viruses will arrive and when, the report said.

"We don't know what is going to arrive until it does.

"Some tick-borne infections, so Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, are highly likely to spread in the UK through our ticks at some point," he was quoted as saying.

Further, the scientists noted that warmer weather in the UK will also pave the way for other diseases including Rift Valley fever, which has a severe strain that is deadly for humans, Zika, and breakbone fever.

There was a 'slow march north' of diseases, Professor Bryan Charleston, Director of the Pirbright Institute, was quoted as saying.

According to Professor Sir Peter Horby, Director of the Pandemic Sciences Institute at Oxford University, climate change was mixing up the map of where to find certain illnesses.

"Dengue, which is classically a South American, South East Asian disease and is hyperendemic in those countries (has) spread North, you're now seeing transmission in the Mediterranean," he said.


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