Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is a fatal zoonotic viral infection. The agent belongs to the Nairovirus of the Bunyaviridae species. The virus naturally recycles in vector-vertebrate-vector. This study aimed to evaluate cases of tick bites admitted to Infectious Diseases and Emergency Departments in 2008, and to develop management recommendations of such cases. Fifty-seven patients who admitted to a hospital due to tick bites in 2008 were included in the study. A 10-day clinical follow-up was performed to assess for symptoms including fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, headache, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, disseminated somatic pain, and other hemorrhagic signs. During this period, laboratory analyzes, including white blood cells, thrombocytes, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, lactate dehydrogenase, creatinine phosphokinase (CK), and pentylenetetrazol were performed. Personal data of the patients, location of the bite, and the removal of the tick were recorded.
Of the 57 patients, 37% were from the city, and 63% were from rural areas. The tick was removed by health staff in 25 (44%) of the cases. The bites occurred on body areas including the head/neck, trunk, upper extremities, and lower extremities in 14%, 24%, 27%, and 13% of the cases, respectively. During the follow-up period, none of the patients exhibited any of the signs or symptoms listed above. Laboratory tests did not reveal any abnormalities, except for high levels of CK in 15 patients. Thus, 57 cases did not develop CCHF.
Since 2002, CCHF has caused an increased mortality in Turkey, and has resulted in high anxiety and concern among the Turkish public regarding tick bites. This has resulted in a rise in the number of patients admitting to emergency departments with tick bites. Due to CCHF's incubation period, patients with tick bites should be evaluated for 10 days using a multidisciplinary approach involving both clinical and laboratory evaluations in order to prevent the unnecessary administration of ribavirine.