Deadly tick bites haunting Turkey with summer setting in earlier
Ticks are back in Turkey, where global warming is taking its toll as well, and spreading the Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), which might be fatal in certain cases.
The first victim this year was Nuriye Basaran, 41, from the Ortaköy district of Çorum. After she was diagnosed with the CCHF in Çorum, she was dispatched to Ankara Numune Education and Research Hospital, where she died on May 7. The tests conducted after the autopsy proved that she in fact died from this fatal hemorrhagic fever.
In the Central Anatolian town of Yozgat, indicated by the Ministry of Health among the cities where the CCHF cases are seen most often, two youngsters, an 18-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were bitten by ticks and hospitalized. After initial medical attention in Yozgat they were dispatched to Ankara, where the boy was diagnosed with CCHF.
Dr. Fikret Purtul, director of Health of Çorum, another Central Anatolian city, said that 26 of those who had come to hospitals after being bitten by ticks were receiving treatment for suspicious CCHF cases. Purtul said the necessary measures had been taken and that there was no need for concern. He noted that many people had started coming to hospitals daily beginning from the middle of April, suspecting they had been bitten by ticks. Çorum State Hospital’s Fever Department was cleared out for only the CCHF cases, he said and added that 10 out of 26 patients were discharged, three of them died, and the rest were still in the hospital.
Dr. Purtul stressed that the best way to combat CCHF was education. They were holding courses in various places in the city, he said. “We are educating imams, teachers and muhtars in the villages. We have so far handed out 40,000 educational brochures. We have taken the necessary measures. Our citizens can continue their lives normally,” he added.
In another Central Anatolian town, Tokat, two people suspected to have contracted CCHF were transferred to Sivas, where also eight people, six of them children, were hospitalized with suspected CCHF. The children were immediately examined in the pediatric department, where the ticks that were still in their skins were extracted under strict control. Abuzer Coskun, a doctor from the emergency services of Cumhuriyet University Research and Teaching Hospital in Sivas, said the cases of tick bites increased as the weather got warmer.
“There has been an upsurge in tick bite cases particularly since May 15 in and around our city. We receive the daily number of three to five cases of tick bites, one to two of which are diagnosed with CCHF. We will treat our patients carrying the CCHF virus in the Fever Department. We will also call back those not diagnosed with the CCHF for another examination,” Coskun stated.
He warned that those bitten by ticks should on no condition try to extract them themselves. So far, 99 people have appealed to hospitals with suspected CCHF cases. Thirty-one of them were found to have contracted the disease, whereas last year 137 people went to hospitals after being bitten by ticks, and 94 of them were diagnosed with the CCHF.
Today’s Zaman Istanbul