Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are diseases caused by several
distinct viral families usually found in animals, especially certain rats and
mice, or insects such as mosquitoes. But the origins of some viruses are
not yet known, such as the Ebola and Marburg viruses.
hemorrhagic fevers affect multiple organs in the body and range from mild to
life-threatening. The symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fevers vary, but often
When the illness is severe, symptoms may include bleeding
(hemorrhage) under the skin, in internal organs, or from body orifices such as
the mouth, eyes, or ears. Other symptoms of severe illness include shock, coma,
Although some treatments, such as the antiviral drug
ribavirin, may help relieve some symptoms, no standard cure exists for viral
hemorrhagic fevers. Also, vaccines are available for only two strains of
viral hemorrhagic fevers: yellow fever and Argentine hemorrhagic fever.
Avoiding contact with the animals and insects known to carry viral hemorrhagic
fevers is the main form of protection.
April 22, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
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