Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers

1 What are Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers?

Viral hemorrhagic fevers are a group of infectious illnesses that affect multiple organs, damage the blood vessels, and also the body’s ability to regulate itself. The diseases are caused by four family of viruses.

Symptoms of these diseases are accompanied by bleeding and hence the name hemorrhagic fever. Some viruses cause mild symptoms, while some others result in potentially life-threatening symptoms. It is most commonly found in the tropical countries.

Viruses are transmitted from animal hosts to humans through contact with feces, saliva, and other bodily fluids of the infected animals. There is no standard cure for these illnesses. Supportive therapy is the standard method of treatment of the symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fevers.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever differ with the type of disease. Initial symptoms of the condition include:

Severe form of viral hemorrhagic fever is characterized by bleeding in internal organs, under the skin, and from orifices like eyes, mouth, and ears. But, blood loss due to this bleeding may not be fatal.

Severe infections may also result in:

  • Nervous system disorders
  • Coma
  • Shock
  • Delirium
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory fever
  • Liver failure
  • Sepsis

3 Causes

Viruses that cause hemorrhagic fever is carried by a variety of animal hosts like insects, rodents, and bats. These viruses are transmitted to human by different routes like insect bites, contact with infected blood or semen, or inhalation of infected feces or urine. The type of fever depends on the type of host present in the area.

Travelling to an area where the particular host is present increases the risk of developing the specific type of hemorrhagic fever. It may take up to three weeks for the symptoms to appear after exposure.

Other risk factors include working with infected people, slaughtering of infected animals, sharing needles in drugs, unprotected sex, and working in host-infected areas.

4 Making a Diagnosis

The initial signs and symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever are not specific and this makes diagnosis difficult. Medical history including exposure to risk factors gives important clues regarding the possibility of having hemorrhagic fever.

Confirmatory diagnosis is done with blood tests. These tests are usually done in designated laboratories as the viruses are virulent and contagious.

5 Treatment

There is no established cure or treatment strategy for viral hemorrhagic fevers. Antiviral drugs like ribavirin help to treat some individuals with Lassa fever.

In some other cases, antiviral medications help to prevent complications of hemorrhagic fever. Supportive care is given to patients with these infections.

Dehydration is treated by giving plenty of fluids to maintain balance of electrolytes. Dialysis is recommended in some patients to clear wastes when the kidneys are non-functional.

6 Prevention

Avoiding exposure to the infected hosts is the best way to prevent viral hemorrhagic fevers. Yellow fever and Argentine fever can be controlled by vaccinations. Efforts should be on to prevent the spread of the disease from one person to another.

Some common disease prevention methods include controlling host population, keeping the workplace and house clear of rodents, bats, and insects, and encouraging cleanup of rodent nests and feces. Bodily contact with infected person and their bodily fluids should be avoided.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Alternative remedies for viral hemorrhagic fevers are based on the type of fever and specific symptoms. Croth, vipera, Lachesis, elaps, and naja are usually recommended for hemorrhagic fever in homeopathy.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to prevent viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Keep the house and surroundings cleared off the hosts like rodents, bats, and mosquitoes.

Take adequate precaution while travelling to host-infected areas.

If any of the symptoms are noticed after exposure to hosts, immediately inform the physician so as to prevent the spread of the disease.

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers can affect multiple organs and damage

  • brain,
  • eyes,
  • heart,
  • kidneys,
  • liver,
  • lungs,
  • spleen.

In some cases the organ damage may result in death.