Viral Hemorrhagic Fever - Symptoms and Causes : Everyday Science

Viral Hemorrhagic Fever – Symptoms and Causes


The viral hemorrhagic fever (VHFs) is a disease caused by a virus belonging to one of the following families: togavirus, filovirus, bunyavirus, flavivirus or arenavirus. The effects on humans of viral hemorrhagic fevers (FHV) can be devastating and even deadly in a high percentage.

People can get infected with this terrible disease through some insects (like the tick) or by coming into contact with the excrement of some animals. It can also be transmitted between human beings, basically, through the contact or exchange of biological fluids.

In this article, we want to explain everything you need to know about viral hemorrhagic fever, how to detect it and how to prevent it.

Characteristics of Hemorrhagic Fever

The viral hemorrhagic fever has a mortality rate close to 40% of cases. Its contagion can occur in several ways as we have previously commented. But the main one is for the tick bite.


There is no vaccine for its prevention and has its origins in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Balkans, according to the data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

For this reason, nurses who care for people with this disease have to take many precautions to avoid contagion.

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Viral hemorrhagic fever (FHV) can also be transmitted from humans. It can be the case by being in direct contact with a sick person or with their bodily fluids. In the same way, but in a smaller quantity, when in contact with contaminated objects or materials.

Symptoms of hemorrhagic fever

It is a type of disease in which, usually, symptoms appear quickly. Among others, the main symptoms of hemorrhagic fever are:

  • Fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Lumbago
  • Photophobia
  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Disorientation
  • Humor changes

After 2 to 4 days of infection, it may be the case that the agitation turns into weakness, depression, and drowsiness. Some abdominal pain may also occur.

Damage suffered by the human body

When a person has been infected, he manifests symptoms such as those mentioned in the previous point, and his body can begin to suffer serious damage very quickly.

The most common may be hepatitis, lymphadenopathy (inflammation of the lymph nodes), pulmonary or renal deterioration, cutaneous hemorrhage eruption in the internal mucous membranes (throat, skin and mouth). There are also cases of suffering from severe depression or even tachycardia.

You should know that all of them appear before if the contagion has occurred via animal (between one and three days) than if it is a human-to-human infection (between five and eight days).

How contagion occurs

The viruses that can cause hemorrhagic fevers to inhabit certain insects or animals (ticks, mosquitoes, some rodents …) that are responsible for infecting man. As indicated by the Carlos III Health Institute, always within the geographical area where these species are found.

Indeed, a human can be contagious if he comes into contact with animals or insects that have the virus. Whether they are bitten by a tick, mosquito, or contact with excretions or secretions.

In any case, the risk of contracting the disease after being bitten by an infected tick is less than 25%.

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On the other hand, there is human-to-human contagion. Medical experts in viral diseases indicate that it would not be correct to say that the risk of human-to-human transmission of hemorrhagic fevers is high.

However, bodily fluids, excretions and secretions (urine, feces, semen, blood, tissue samples) of patients with this disease should be considered potentially dangerous.

For this reason, people who usually have a higher risk of infection are usually those who care for and care for these patients, since the contact is more direct.

Can hemorrhagic fever be cured?

Currently, there is still a vaccine to destroy the virus, being the strength and physical condition of the infected those that are crucial for its cure.

During the second week after infection is when the symptoms and effects of the disease worsen or are reduced. The patient’s ability to withstand the damage received plays a fundamental role in survival.

Is hemorrhagic fever deadly?

As we have discussed in the previous point, it depends on how each body reacts. It is not always mortal. It is estimated that 40% of those infected dies.

The vital support that the contagion receives is very important. However, it is recommended to administer ribavirin, an antiviral that has achieved good results in some cases.

In cases where the patient does not improve, death usually arrives in the second week. Among patients who manage to fight the virus, improvement usually begins on the ninth or tenth day.


To avoid the possible bites of mosquitoes, there are highly effective chemical repellents in the market.

In the case of ticks, such repellents are not as effective. For that reason, the best way to prevent his bite (for example if you go to the field) is to dress in appropriate clothing: boots, long pants and inside socks.

On the other hand, it avoids having to handle rat droppings or other rodents. And always remember to wash and have clean hands.

Final note

We remind you that this article is merely informative. cannot make any diagnosis or prescribe medical treatments. If you think you may have a symptom or feel some discomfort, you should go to the doctor immediately.

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