Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHFs)

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WHAT are HEMORRHAGIC FEVERS [VHFs]? Viral hemorrhagic fevers are the different infectious diseases that interfere with the blood’s ability to clot. VHFs can cause severe life-threatening illnesses. They can damage the walls of tiny blood vessels, making them leak. The resulting internal bleeding can range from relatively minor to life-threatening. Some viral hemorrhagic fevers include the […] Read More

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Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHFs)

WHAT are HEMORRHAGIC FEVERS [VHFs]? Viral hemorrhagic fevers are the different infectious diseases that interfere with the blood’s ability to clot. VHFs can cause severe life-threatening illnesses. They can damage the walls of tiny blood vessels, making them leak. The resulting internal bleeding can range from relatively minor to life-threatening. Some viral hemorrhagic fevers include the following being stated below:
  • Marburg.
  • Ebola [EVD].
  • Dengue.
  • Crimean congo.
  • Lassa fever.
  • Yellow fever.
  • Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
Viral hemorrhagic fevers are spread by contact with infected animals, people, or insects.  Regular fumigation of your environment can help in preventing the infection.  VHFs have common features or characteristics. They affect body organs, damage the blood vessels and affect the baby’s regulatory ability.  The effects of some viral hemorrhagic fevers are mild, but some, including Ebola or Marburg, cause severe sickness and death. VHFs are found around the world.  Specific diseases are usually limited to locations where their vectors [the animals or insects which carry them] live.  Lassa fever is restricted to rural areas in West Africa, where the vectors [rats and mice] can be found habituating within. At present, no cure for viral hemorrhagic fevers has been found, despite their enormous threat to global health. Before you travel out of a country to another, get enough information about health-related facts, concerning the place you’re going. Personal care is vital and of great help to put you off from these hazards.  Antiviral drugs [including ribavirin (Rebetol, Girasole, etc.)] may help delay the effects of some infections, and so, prevent complications in some cases. RISK FACTORS The factors that can increase your risk of contracting viral hemorrhagic fevers include all or some of the following as given below:
  • Traveling [especially on international trips].
  • Working or living with the sick.
  • Sharing needles to use intravenous drugs.
  • Slaughtering or eating infected animals.
  • Having unprotected sexual intercourse.
  • Exposure to infected blood or other infected body fluids.
  • Working outdoor or in rat-infested buildings.
COMPLICATIONS Hemorrhagic fever can damage organs of your body leading to their dysfunctioning and in most severe cases cause death.  Damage areas may include:
  • Brain – affects coordination
  • Eyes – affects sight
  • Heart – affects blood circulation and energy
  • Lungs – affects breathing and oxygen supply
  • Spleen – increased infection and reduction of the level of blood cells
  • Kidneys – affects urination and urinary tracts
  • Liver – excretion of chemical waste like bile from the blood will be hindered.
PREVENTION If you live in, work in, or travel to areas where VHFs are common, the following precautionary steps to protect yourself is necessary.  This may include using appropriate protective barriers such as:
  • Hand gloves
  • Eye goggles
  • Face shield
  • Gowns
For health workers, extra precautions also include:
  • Careful handling of lab specimens and waste
  • Disinfection of lab specimens/waste
  • Proper disposal of lab specimen and waste
DIAGNOSIS
  • Doctor’s private inquiry.
  • Your detailed medical history
  • Your detailed travel history: In describing your international trip, details must include the countries you visited and the dates, any contact you may have had with possible sources of infection.
  • Details of any of your exposure to rodents or mosquitoes.
  • Blood sample tests:
Hemorrhagic fevers are virulent and contagious, for this reason, the tests are usually performed in specially designated labs using strict precautions. TREATMENT
  • Medications
The antiviral drug, ribavirin (Rebetol, Virazole), others.
  • Therapy
To prevent dehydration, fluids may be needful to help maintain your electrolytes balance-minerals (sodium and potassium) that are critical to nerve and muscle function.
  • Surgical and other procedures.
You need kidney dialysis to keep pace with the functions of your failed kidneys. MORTALITY RATE FOR VIRAL HEMORRHAGIC FEVER Case-fatality rates of patients with VHF vary from less than 10% (e.g, in dengue HF) to as high as 90%, as has been reported in some filovirus outbreaks.  The case-fatality rate for the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreaks was approximately 40%.

Symptoms

SYMPTOMS OF VIRAL HEMORRHAGIC FEVER

The initial signs and symptoms of VHFs may vary per disease. 

Generally, the initial signs and symptoms may include:

  • High fever.
  • Weakness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Joints, bones, or muscle aches.
  • Headache.
  • Rashes.

In severe cases, hemorrhagic fever symptoms can include:

  • Bleeding from the eyes, nose, ears, or mouth.
  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Internal bleeding.
  • Failure of organs.
  • Coma [a prolonged and deep state of unconsciousness].
  • Shock [a condition where the organs do not receive enough blood or oxygen].
  • Death.

CARRIERS/HOSTS/VECTORS OF THE VHF VIRUSES

  • Animals:
    • Rodents [rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels].
    • Prairie dogs.
    • Guinea pigs.
    • Hamsters, etc.  
  • Insects:
    • Ticks.
    • Mosquitoes, etc.
  • Infected people, who are not the hosts, but infected by animals and insects [the hosts].

Causes

CAUSES

VHFs are caused by viruses. Hemorrhagic fever viruses occur naturally in some animals and insects, and they always infect people via contact with fluids or excretions from animals or other people infected with the viruses. 

Common channels of transmission are:

  • Touch.

Contact with infected persons, surfaces, or items.

  • Water.

The viruses are also found in contaminated water or other fluids.

  • Food.

In most contaminated foods, hazardous viruses can be found.

  • Air.

A few varieties can be inhaled into the body system, for example: from infected rat feces or urine. The viruses can also be invited into the lungs when an individual finds himself in a concentrated area, such as markets, schools, hospitals, clubs, and etcetera.

  • Healthcare centers. 

Health workers should be properly masked and gloved. Blood should be screened thoroughly, needles treated, bed covers changed for each patient, rooms of infected persons separated, and other good preventive measures in place.

  • Sex without protection.

FAQ

Is there a vaccine for hemorrhagic fever?

Can viral hemorrhagic fever disease be prevented? No vaccines are available to prevent these diseases. Two exceptions are for yellow fever and Argentine hemorrhagic fever.

Is hemorrhagic fever fatal?

These symptoms are often accompanied by hemorrhage (bleeding), however, the bleeding is itself rarely life-threatening. While some types of hemorrhagic fever viruses can cause relatively mild illnesses, many of these viruses cause severe life-threatening disease.

Is viral hemorrhagic fever contagious?

The route transmission varies by a specific virus. Some viral hemorrhagic fever is spread by mosquito or tick bites. Others are transmitted by contacts with infected blood or semen. A few varieties can be inhaled from infected rat feces or urine.

Is viral hemorrhagic fever airborne?

The airborne transmission also can occur but is rare, the report says, Clinical manifestations of viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) may include fever, myalgias, rash, and encephalitis, but presentations vary depending on the virus, the authors say.

What is the best treatment for hemorrhagic fever?

Medications. While no specific treatment exists for most viral hemorrhagic fever, the antiviral drug ribavirin (Rebetol, Virazole, others) may help shorten the course of some infections and prevent complications in some cases.