What is Hemmorhagic Fever?

With the recent outbreak of the deadly virus Ebola many people have been searching for answers about a lot of stuff surrounding the virus.

A common search among a lot of people have been viral hemmorhagic fever which is a group of illnesses that are caused by several distinct families of viruses.

Like the rest of the world I have been doing my research as well.

I found some very good information concerning this issue at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that I think you might be interested in knowing yourself. I’ve included some important key points for the article below.

What are viral hemorrhagic fevers?

Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) refer to a group of illnesses that are caused by several distinct families of viruses. In general, the term “viral hemorrhagic fever” is used to describe a severe multisystem syndrome (multisystem in that multiple organ systems in the body are affected).

Viral Hemmorhagic Fever

Characteristically, the overall vascular system is damaged, and the body’s ability to regulate itself is impaired. 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.

How are hemorrhagic fever viruses grouped?

VHFs are caused by viruses of four distinct families: arenaviruses, filoviruses, bunyaviruses, and flaviviruses. Each of these families share a number of features:

  • They are all RNA viruses, and all are covered, or enveloped, in a fatty (lipid) coating.
  • Their survival is dependent on an animal or insect host, called the natural reservoir.
  • The viruses are geographically restricted to the areas where their host species live.
  • Humans are not the natural reservoir for any of these viruses. Humans are infected when they come into contact with infected hosts. However, with some viruses, after the accidental transmission from the host, humans can transmit the virus to one another.
  • Human cases or outbreaks of hemorrhagic fevers caused by these viruses occur sporadically and irregularly. The occurrence of outbreaks cannot be easily predicted.
  • With a few noteworthy exceptions, there is no cure or established drug treatment for VHFs.

In rare cases, other viral and bacterial infections can cause a hemorrhagic fever; scrub typhus is a good example.

What carries viruses that cause viral hemorrhagic fevers?

Viruses associated with most VHFs are zoonotic. This means that these viruses naturally reside in an animal reservoir host or arthropod vector.

They are totally dependent on their hosts for replication and overall survival. For the most part, rodents and arthropods are the main reservoirs for viruses causing VHFs.

The multimammate rat, cotton rat, deer mouse, house mouse, and other field rodents are examples of reservoir hosts. Arthropod ticks and mosquitoes serve as vectors for some of the illnesses. However, the hosts of some viruses remain unknown — Ebola and Marburg viruses are well-known examples.

I found this report to be very informative for me, if you would like to read the full story and continue your research feel free to click here to learn more on this topic by going to the CDC.