A man has died of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever after flying home to Scotland from Afghanistan, in Britain’s first case of the deadly disease, health officials said Saturday.
Two passengers who sat close to the 38-year-old man on a plane are undergoing daily health checks, although they have not yet shown signs of the tick-borne tropical illness.
The man was diagnosed within hours of arriving on Tuesday from Kabul on an Emirates airlines plane that went via Dubai and he was initially treated in hospital in Glasgow.
But as his condition worsened he was transferred to the high-security infectious diseases unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital on Friday, reportedly on board a special Royal Air Force isolation plane.
“A 38-year-old man with Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever being treated at the Royal Free London hospital has died. We would like to extend our condolences to his family,” a hospital spokeswoman told AFP.
The hospital said the disease “can be acquired from an infected patient only through direct contact with their blood or body fluids, therefore there is no risk to the general public.”
It is the first laboratory-confirmed case of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in Britain, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said.
Glasgow’s health authority said it had identified and contacted four passengers who may have had contact with the patient.
Two of them, including one who was in “close proximity” to the victim during the flight, will be monitored daily for the next two weeks. The other two do not need further surveillance, it said.
The risk to all other passengers on the flight from Dubai is “extremely low”, it added.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever’s symptoms include bleeding of the gums and bodily orifices followed by liver, kidney and lung failure. About 30 percent of cases are fatal, according to the HPA.
It is endemic in much of Africa, the Middle East and Asia but rare in western Europe.