New circulating genomic variant of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic
fever virus in Iran
Mohammad Ali Shokrgozar
Received: 12 August 2012 / Accepted: 21 November 2012 / Published online: 28 December 2012
Ó Springer-Verlag Wien 2012
Abstract Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is a viral
infection that is caused by Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic
fever virus (CCHFV). On May 27, 2012, a woman became
ill after accidentally splashing cow’s blood into her eyes.
Serological and molecular investigations were carried out
on the serum of the patient. The test results for serological
testing were negative, but RT-PCR was strongly positive for
CCHFV. A phylogenetic study on the CCHFV genome
sequence showed 50 % similarity to a 520-bp region of
Russian strains. By combining historical phylogenetic data
and current data, it can be surmised that there are potentially
more than ﬁve circulating CCHFV genomic variants in Iran.
Keywords CCHF Á RT-PCR Á Phylogenetic Á Iran Á
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) is an
RNA virus that belongs to the genus Nairovirus of the family
Bunyaviridae. The virus has a tripartite genome composed of
small (S), medium (M), and large (L) RNA segments . The
route of transmission is via bites of infected ticks, mainly
from the genus Hyalomma, as well as by the handling of
blood and organs/tissues of humans and animals .
Since CCHF was ﬁrst discovered in the Crimea and
Belgian Congo, the disease has been reported in many
regions of Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
Moreover, CCHF viruses from different regions of the
world have shown considerable molecular heterogeneity in
their S genome segments . CCHF was ﬁrst reported in
Iran in 1970 by Chumakov. In terms of the geographical
signiﬁcance of CCHF in Iran, it is worth mentioning that
Iran has a long border with endemic countries such as
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey, and lies in close prox-
imity to other endemic countries like Russia .
Our earlier phylogenetic analysis of partial S-segment
nucleotide sequences in Iran, in 2004, illustrated that the
CCHFV isolates were clustered with strains from Pakistan.
These data also demonstrated that the Iranian isolates that
were examined and the previously published CCHFV strain
ArTeh193-3 clustered into different genetic groups, indi-
cating that at least two genetic lineages of CCHFV could
be co-circulating in Iran .
Further investigations on ticks in Isfahan Province in
central Iran, in 2008, revealed that the CCHFV genome
was detected in 9 % of ticks resident in livestock. Phylo-
genetic analysis demonstrated that a variant isolate was
clustered with the Iraq strain .
To date, according to all previous phylogenetic studies,
it can be claimed that Senegalese, Pakistani and Iraqi
strains of CCHFV are known to be circulating in Iran, and
there have been no reports of Russian-like CCHFV
sequences in Iran.
As Iran is geographically close to other CCHF endemic
countries, we previously presumed there would be other
S. Chinikar (&) Á N. Shah-Hosseini Á T. Jalali
Arboviruses and Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers Laboratory
(National Ref. Lab), Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran
Department of Molecular Biology, Pasteur Institute of Iran,
M. A. Shokrgozar
National Cell Bank of Iran, Pasteur Institute of Iran,
Department of Epidemiology, Pasteur Institute of Iran,
Arch Virol (2013) 158:1085–1088