The spread of the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever in Iran has caused serious concern among Iranians, as many refrain from buying red meat.
“After the spread of the disease, people refuse to buy red meat, which has led to a slump in sheepmeat sales,” chairman of Sheepmeat Union, Ali Asghar Maleki, was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Following the decline in demand, sheepmeat prices have fallen by 20,000 rials ($0.5) per kilogram, he added.
Maleki warned of more disruption in the market, if the trend continues.
CCHF is a widespread tick-borne viral disease that is now endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia. Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and photophobia.
It is a zoonotic disease carried by several domestic and wild animals. While clinical disease is rare in infected animals, it is severe in infected humans, with a mortality rate of 10–40%. Outbreaks of illness are usually attributed to Hyalomma tick bites and contact with infected animals or people.
Thirty-eight cases of infection with the disease have so far been confirmed in Iran, three of whom have lost their lives.
The head of Tehran Organ Meat Sellers Union told ILNA that the spread of the disease and talks surrounding it have caused many problems for the members of this union with sales having slumped badly.
“Despite the Health Minister’s announcement that the disease is under control, people still refuse to buy or consume (sheep or cow) liver,” Gholamhossein Shirazi said.
Organ meat, such as sheep or cow liver, heart and kidney, is a popular food in Iran.
Noting that people’s fear about consuming liver in authorized member unions is unfounded, he said all raw materials are provided from authorized slaughterhouses in the suburbs of Tehran, which operate under the supervision of Iran’s Veterinarian Organization.
“With 15 big industrial slaughterhouses in the capital city, there is no need for contraband meat,” he added.
Shirazi stressed the role of media in dispelling rumors and said, “It’s the duty of mass media to report the officials’ announcements to put people’s mind at ease.”
Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi on June 11 announced that Congo Fever in Iran is fully under control.
However, he advised consumers to buy meat from authorized centers only.
In addition, Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, the head of the Infectious Diseases Office at the Health Ministry, has urged people to check the Iranian Veterinary Organization’s seal of approval on meat products before making purchases and to keep them refrigerated for 24 hours before consumption. People working in slaughterhouses are advised to use masks, gloves and boots, as a precautionary measure, IRNA reported.