A number of diseases are included under the heading “viral haemorrhagic fevers” (VHFs), with differences in type of virus, geographical distribution, incidence, reservoir, way of transmission and clinical symptoms. The common denominator is the possible emergence of a disease with general bleedings – often leading to death. Another common feature is the potential risk that such patients might pose to close contacts and to health and laboratory personnel until a firm diagnosis is established. Fortunately most of these viruses do not transmit easily (with the exception of yellow fever virus and Dengue virus which are spread through infected mosquitoes).
Present in Europe are Hantaan and Puumula VHF, also called ‘epidemic nephropathy’ (transmitted through direct/indirect exposure to infected rodents) and Crimean-Congo VHF (transmitted through tick bites).
Others, are mainly seen as imported infections, such as Lassa fever (transmitted by rodents), yellow fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever (transmitted through mosquito bites), Lassa fever and Marburg fever (monkey associated).
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Alkhurma haemorrhagic fever
Alkhurma haemorrhagic fever is a viral haemorrhagic disease reported mainly in Saudi Arabia. The virus was isolated in 1994 from the blood of a butcher with a severe illness in Jeddah.
Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne viral disease with symptoms such as high fever, muscle pain, dizziness, abnormal sensitivity to light, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Dengue haemorrhagic fever
Dengue fever is present in Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Americas and Africa. Humans are infected with dengue virus through bites of tiger (Aedes) mosquitoes.
Ebola and Marburg fevers
Ebola and Marburg haemorrhagic fevers are caused by the Ebola and Marburg virus respectively, both belonging to the same virus family.
Haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (Puumala caused)
Puumala virus occur mainly in Europe and Russia. Transmission to humans occurs through inhalation of virus in aerosol from excreta of infected rodents. Up to 80% of infections may be without symptoms.
Lassa fever is present in West Africa. The reservoir of Lassa virus are rodents and humans become infected through contact with the excreta of infected rats.
Rift Valley fever
Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an acute viral disease that affects domestic animals (such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels).