Ebola, Marburg, dengue: what are hemorrhagic fevers and why are they dangerous

What are hemorrhagic fevers

Hemorrhagic fevers are viral infections that damage the walls of tiny blood vessels. At first, because of this, many microthrombi are formed, and when the supply of enzymes responsible for clotting ends, bleeding begins, which is difficult to stop.

Viral infections are caused by various pathogens, such as arenaviruses (Arenaviridae), bunyaviruses (Bunyaviridae), filoviruses (Filoviridae) and flaviviruses (Flaviviridae). Their genes are stored in the form of ribonucleic acid. Unlike more stable DNA, such a structure changes more easily, and therefore microorganisms mutate more often. Therefore, RNA viruses are the main cause of the development of new diseases in humans.

The pathogens that cause hemorrhagic fevers do not survive well in the external environment, so they need hosts – ticks , mosquitoes or rodents.

Why are hemorrhagic fevers dangerous?

Usually, bleeding from small vessels does not pose a threat to life in itself. But you can lose a lot of blood if it starts to flow profusely from the nose, mouth and intestines or into the internal organs.

Also, due to the body’s inflammatory response to viruses, septic shock can occur – this is when the pressure drops sharply and the body does not have the strength to distill blood. Because of this, the organs lack it, they cannot do their job, multiple organ failure will occur. Then there is a high probability that the person will die.

How are hemorrhagic fevers transmitted?

Some viral fevers are transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes or ticks, so their distribution is limited to the habitats of these animals. Others can become infected in any room where there are dried particles of mouse feces or urine. It is enough, for example, to inhale the dust from the floor along which the vector rodent ran. Some can be transmitted through contact with the blood, saliva or semen of humans or animals.

What are the common symptoms of hemorrhagic fevers

They may vary slightly from disease to disease and from person to person, but in general they most often include :

  • fever, that is, fever, chills;
  • pain in the bones, joints and muscles;
  • dizziness;
  • fatigue, weakness, general malaise;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • diarrhea.

In severe cases, there are :

  • bleeding under the skin, into internal organs, or from the mouth, eyes, or ears;
  • disorders of the nervous system;
  • coma;
  • rave;
  • convulsions;
  • kidney failure;
  • respiratory disorders;
  • liver failure.

Symptoms of a fever do not always appear immediately. Depending on the type of virus, it will take 2 to 21 days for symptoms to develop. So you run the risk of not even knowing that you have been infected until you return home from a trip.

What are hemorrhagic fevers

Scientists have a couple of dozen different hemorrhagic fevers. Only eight are best known, and they are found only in certain regions – all because it is there that carriers of viruses live:

  • Lassa fever (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia);
  • Ebola (Central and West Africa);
  • Marburg (Central and East Africa);
  • dengue fever (Africa, Southeast Asia, North and South America);
  • yellow fever (subtropics of Africa and South America);
  • hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (ubiquitous);
  • Crimean fever (Africa, south of Eastern Europe, Central Asia);
  • Rift Valley (Africa).

What hemorrhagic fevers can you get in Russia

You can return from a trip with any fever, but in the country you can really catch only three.

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome

In the European part of Russia and the Far East, you can become infected with hantaviruses, which cause fever with severe damage to the kidneys until they fail.

This fever is carried by field, forest and house mice, rats , and it is transmitted to people by contact with rodent feces. For example, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome occurs in summer residents who come at the beginning of the season, begin to sweep the floor and inhale particles of mouse feces with viruses with dust.

You can get infected if the droppings get on damaged skin or mucous membranes. Also, particles of pathogens can be on products that are contaminated with rodents and have not been cooked. For example, on cabbage or carrots.

You cannot catch a fever from another person.

Crimea-Congo fever

In the steppes of southern Russia (Kalmykia, Dagestan , Ingushetia, the Karachay-Cherkess and Kabardino-Balkarian republics, the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, the Rostov, Volgograd and Astrakhan regions) , there are noiroviruses, which cause Crimea-Congo fever. Its symptoms resemble other hemorrhagic fevers.

Pathogens live in some types of ticks, can infect goats, cattle, hares, hedgehogs, other animals and humans. Therefore, tourists, villagers and agricultural workers who come into contact with infected animals are more likely to fall ill with this fever.

Omsk hemorrhagic fever

In the Omsk, Novosibirsk and Tyumen regions, fever caused by flaviviruses is extremely rare . They are transmitted through the bites of some types of ticks, but can also live in goats, hares, and muskrats. At risk are those who work with farm or wild animals, and also often visit the forest. City dwellers should also be on their guard: ticks can crawl from dogs, but this happens very rarely.

No cases of human-to-human transmission have been identified.

Who is at risk

Anyone can get sick, but the chances are higher :

  • travelers;
  • agricultural workers, such as slaughterhouses;
  • lovers of raw meat;
  • those who work or live where there are mice or rats;
  • people who have unprotected sex ;
  • those sharing intravenous drug needles with someone else;
  • contact with infected blood or other fluids.

How is hemorrhagic fever treated?

Hemorrhagic fevers require hospitalization. For them, there is no special treatment that would act on the pathogen. Perhaps some people with Lassa fever may benefit from ribavirin-based antiviral therapy, but nothing else.

Therefore, doctors usually only need to treat the symptoms. For example, infuse solutions through droppers to avoid dehydration and shock, support breathing with oxygen or artificial ventilation, give painkillers, perform dialysis for kidney failure, that is, purify the blood with the help of a machine.

How to protect yourself from hemorrhagic fever

Some fevers can be vaccinated , in other cases it remains only to avoid pathogens.

If you are traveling to a place where you can contract hemorrhagic fever

When you travel, be sure to find out what diseases are common in the country of destination and whether it is possible to protect yourself from them in advance.

  • Get vaccinated against yellow fever, Argentine fever or Ebola depending on the region of travel.
  • Wear long-sleeved, long-legged clothing that has been treated for ticks with permethrin.
  • Use insect repellent .
  • Install a bed net at night.
  • Avoid contact with rodents and livestock in areas where outbreaks occur.

If you live or work where mice and other rodents can transmit hemorrhagic fevers

In order not to get infected from rodents, follow these precautions:

  • Keep rodents out of the room where people live or work.
  • Keep pet food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Store trash in resealable buckets and wash them often.
  • Throw out the trash regularly.
  • Make sure there are no gaps in doors and windows.
  • Keep a woodpile, stacks of boards and bricks at least 30 meters from the house.
  • Make sure that grass is mowed and bushes trimmed within a radius of 30 meters around the house.
  • Remove mouse droppings only with gloves, a mask and goggles, do it with paper towels (so as not to raise dust with a broom or leave pathogens in the vacuum cleaner), throw towels into a double bag. After that, disinfect floors and surfaces with a mixture of water and bleach. Wash bedding and other textiles in hot water, because there may also be particles of feces on it.

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