Brits planning a trip to Spain are being alerted to a serious virus outbreak with the disease proving fatal in nearly one-third of all reported cases.

The alarm has been raised following the detection of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in Spain, a severe virus that carries a high mortality rate. The Travel Health Pro website, supported by the Foreign Office, has issued a caution to potential visitors about the tick-borne illness, reports the Mirror.

Health authorities in the Spanish region of Castile and Leon have confirmed that a patient is currently hospitalised in a grave yet stable condition and is under isolation in Salamanca. The regional Ministry of Health conveyed: “The patient remains admitted, stable in serious condition, at the Salamanca Hospital, where the protocolized epidemiological and care measures have been adopted.”

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They added: “The confirmed case is an elderly man who is admitted to the Salamanca Hospital with a clinical picture compatible with CCHF. He has a tick bite and remains stable, although with the clinical severity that this pathology implies, with the isolation measures and protection of health professionals provided for these situations.”

The Territorial Health Service’s Epidemiology Section of the Government of Castilla y Leon in Salamanca province, in coordination with medics at the Hospital of Salamanca, have highlighted that Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is induced by a virus. Elaborating on its transmission, they said: “Main transmission mechanism is the bite of the tick of the genus “Hyalomma”, although it can also be transmitted from person to person through contact with blood or fluids of the patient, which can occur especially in healthcare personnel when they are not properly protected.”

Health authorities in Spain have offered advice on preventive actions to avoid catching CCHF. They alert: “Regarding the prevention of bites by these insects, health authorities remind us of the importance of wearing appropriate clothing and footwear during outings in the countryside, as well as walking along paths and using repellents for both people and pets. Likewise, it must be insisted that any ticks that may have attached must be removed as soon as possible and appropriately, preferably by health professionals.”

The CCHF was first recorded in Crimea (then known as Crimean fever) in 1944 and later in the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1956. CCHF virus was detected in ticks for the first time in Spain in 2010. Between 2013 and August 2022, the Spanish Ministry of Health has reported 12 cases and 4 fatalities associated with the disease.

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