BACKGROUND: Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne viral zoonotic disease distributed across several continents and recognized as an ongoing health threat. In humans, the infection can progress to a severe disease with high fatality, raising public health concerns due to the limited prophylactic and therapeutic options available. Animal species, clinically unaffected by the virus, serve as viral reservoirs and amplifier hosts, and can be a valuable tool for surveillance. Little is known about the occurrence and prevalence of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever Virus (CCHFV) in Cameroon. Knowledge on CCHFV exposure and the factors associated with its presence in sentinel species are a valuable resource to better understand transmission dynamics and assess local risks for zoonotic disease emergence.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a CCHFV serological survey and risk factor analysis for animal level seropositivity in pastoral and dairy cattle in the North West Region (NWR) and the Vina Division (VD) of the Adamawa Region in Cameroon. Seroprevalence estimates were adjusted for sampling design-effects and test performance. In addition, explanatory multivariable logistic regression mixed-effects models were fit to estimate the effect of animal characteristics, husbandry practices, risk contacts and ecological features on the serological status of pastoral cattle. The overall seroprevalence was 56.0% (95% CI 53.5-58.6) and 6.7% (95% CI 2.6-16.1) among pastoral and dairy cattle, respectively. Animals going on transhumance had twice the odds of being seropositive (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.1-3.8), indicating that animal movements could be implicated in disease expansion. From an ecological perspective, absolute humidity (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-0.9) and shrub density (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.4-3.2) were associated with seropositivity, which suggests an underlying viral dynamic connecting vertebrate host and ticks in a complex transmission network.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated high seroprevalence levels of CCHFV antibodies in cattle in Cameroon indicating a potential risk to human populations. However, current understanding of the underlying dynamics of CCHFV locally and the real risk for human populations is incomplete. Further studies designed using a One Health approach are required to improve local knowledge of the disease, host interactions and environmental risk factors. This information is crucial to better project the risks for human populations located in CCHFV-suitable ecological niches.