Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Viral hemorrhagic fevers refer to a group of illnesses that are caused by several distinct families of viruses. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about these illnesses in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Viral hemorrhagic fevers, also referred to as VHFs, are a group of illnesses caused by four families of viruses. These include the Ebola and Marburg, Lassa fever, and yellow fever viruses.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers have common features: they affect many organs, they damage the blood vessels, and they affect the bodys ability to regulate itself. These symptoms are often accompanied by hemorrhage; however, the bleeding is itself rarely life-threatening.

Some VHFs cause mild disease, but some, like Ebola or Marburg, cause severe disease and death.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers are found around the world. Specific diseases are usually limited to areas where the animals that carry them live. For example, Lassa fever is limited to rural areas of West Africa where rats and mice carry the virus.

The risk for travelers is low, but you should avoid visiting areas where there are disease outbreaks. Because there are no effective treatments for some of these viral infections, there is concern about their use in bioterrorism.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.