Biological Weapons --
Congo-Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever

As a biological warfare agent, the primary threat is delivery by aerosol release.


Blood discoloring arm of CCHF patient

Common symptoms are fever, muscle pain, and prostration. Physical examination may reveal only conjunctival injection, mild low blood pressure, flushing, and petechial hemorrhages. The most dreaded complications are shock, multiple organ system failure, and death.

Severe hemorrhaging is typical.

How does it spread?


Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne disease that occurs in the Crimea and in parts of Africa, Europe and Asia. It can also be spread by contact with infected animals, and in healthcare settings.

Patients generally have significant quantities of virus in blood and often other secretions so special caution must be used in handling sharps, needles, etc.

Diagnosis Blood and other specimens from patients with signs and symptoms require lab analysis.

(Sewage, bulk blood, suctioned fluids, secretions, and excretions should be autoclaved, processed in a chemical toilet, or treated with a 5% chlorine solution for at least 5 minutes in bedpan or commode prior to flushing.)

Only intensive care will save the most severely ill patients.

Management of bleeding is assisted by coagulation medications. Intramuscular injections, aspirin and other anticoagulant drugs should be avoided.

The investigational antiviral drug ribavirin is available on a case-by-case basis.

Specifics on treatment can be found here

There are currently no vaccines available for human use in the United States.

Should the patient die, there should be minimal handling of the body, with sealing of the corpse in leak-proof material for prompt burial or cremation.

Survivors may be left with long-term challenges such as blindness, hearing loss, and other neurologic and eye problems.


USAMRIID's Medical Management of Biological Casualties Handbood; Fourth Edition February 2001; pages 9-10;
Federation of American Scientists;
Virtual Naval Hospital: Treatment of Biological Warfare Agent Casualties;

All contents © 2001 Stan and Holly Deyo. All rights reserved.

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