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Viral Haemorrhagic Fever: Causes and Prevention

Dr. Monika Bhanushali
Dr. Monika Bhanushali
September16/ 2016

Viral haemorrhagic fever or VHF has three components evident in the name of the disease itself. First of all, it is “viral” in origin and it has symptoms like “fever” and “haemorrhage” in its manifestations.

The common viruses causing VHF are as follows:

  1. Dengue
  2. Lassa
  3. Marburg
  4. Ebola
  5. Yellow fever
  6. Rift valley fever etc.

These viruses are mainly transferred to humans through biological vectors such as rodents and mosquitos.

Cases of VHF mostly occur in tropical countries of the world or people who have recently travelled to tropical countries. Ebola has been in news since last few years due to its multiple outbreaks especially in Africa with high numbers of fatality cases.

Usually the number of people succumbing to this disease vary from 10% in case of dengue virus to almost 90% in case of Ebola virus.


The patient suffering from VHF may complain of following symptoms:

  1. Fever
  2. Clotting problems such as petechial rash on the skin,
  3. Bleeding
  4. Swelling of the face
  5. Low blood pressure
  6. Shock
  7. Flushing of the face and chest
  8. Fatigue
  9. Muscle pain
  10. Head ache
  11. Vomiting
  12. Diarrhoea


The diagnosis of VHF is made mainly by the presenting clinical complaints. However, it is possible to make a definitive diagnosis.

The parameters changes are as follows:

  1. White blood cells: the count is decreased
  2. Lymphocytes: they are decreased
  3. Platelet count: it is decreased which is responsible for the bleeding problems
  4. Liver enzymes: the liver enzymes may be raised showing the spread of infection to the liver.
  5. Abnormal blood clotting parameters.
  6. Bleeding time gets prolonged.


It is very necessary to consult a doctor as soon as the above spectrum is seen in a patient.

The main treatment modalities are as follows:

  1. Antiviral therapy:

It has found to be pf help in some of the cases. It doesn’t show effects in all the cases however.

  1. Intensive support care:

The main stay of the treatment is intensive support care; it includes:

  1. Fluids: plenty of oral fluids should be taken
  2. Electrolytes: electrolytes balance should be achieved by intravenous fluids.
  3. Rest: it is advised to take as much rest as possible
  4. Having healthy and nutritious food


  1. Vaccines:

Although it’s a full proof methodof providing immunity against VHF, vaccine against only yellow fever is readily available.

  1. Antiviral medications:

If a person is going to travel to tropical areas, preventive anti- viral medication cover can be given to decrease to chances of VHF infections.

  1. Quarantine:

The people affected with the disease should be isolated from the non-infected population.

  1. Hygiene:

Simple precautions such as hand washing, double gloving, shoe coverings should be used by all health care professional taking care of the infected individuals.

  1. Mosquito and rodent control:

Eliminating the vectors of the virus of VHF will lead to decrease in the rate of spread of the infection. It is better to restrict outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when the mosquitoes are most active. Use of Mosquito repellents and bed nets is also useful.


If the person suffering from VHF not treated on time, it may result in following complications:

  1. Shock
  2. Coma
  3. Kidney failure
  4. Delirium
  5. Superimposed bacterial infection
  6. Death

If above given preventive methods are applied, it is easier to avoid viral haemorrhagic fever.

Dr. Monika Bhanushali
Dr. Monika Bhanushali

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