Health officials in Jeddah have warned of a possible outbreak of the Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever tick-borne virus. As of Tuesday, April 3, no information has been released on how many cases have thus far been reported; nevertheless, hospitals throughout the city have been on high-alert. The disease has been known to affect shepherds, cattle owners, butchers, as well as pilgrims who slaughter sacrificial animals.
Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever (AHF) is caused by Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever virus (AHFV), a tick-borne virus of the flavivirus family. Camels and sheep are some of the virus' known hosts. After an incubation period that may be as short as 2-4 days, the disease initially presents with flu-like symptoms including fever, loss of appetite, general malaise, diarrhea, and vomiting. In certain cases, the virus can cause multi-organ failure, leading to the death of the patient. Since AHFV's discovery in 1995, several hundred cases of AHF have been reported in Saudi Arabia. Cases appear to peak in spring and summer.
Individuals in Saudi Arabia are advised to take measures to protect themselves against ticks, e.g. by wearing covering clothing and using insect repellent. Avoid close contact with livestock animals or with infected individuals. Individuals who believe they may have contracted Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever are advised to seek medical attention.