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Hemorrhagic fever is a serious complication that usually arises in infections caused by viruses, especially in cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever and yellow fever. However, hemorrhagic fever can also be caused by other types of viruses, such as the Ebola virus or the hantavirus, for example.
The symptoms of hemorrhagic fever appear on average after 10 to 14 days of the person being infected by the virus and usually include fever above 38ºC, pain all over the body, red spots on the skin and bleeding from the eyes, mouth, nose, urine, and vomiting, which can result in severe bleeding if left untreated.
The diagnosis of this disease can be made by a general practitioner by evaluating the symptoms and performing blood tests, such as serology, in which it is possible to identify the causative virus, and treatment must be carried out isolation in a hospital to prevent hemorrhagic fever from being passed on to other people.
Main signs and symptoms
Symptoms of hemorrhagic fever appear when the virus enters the bloodstream and may include:
- High fever, above 38ºC, with sudden onset;
- Purple spots on the skin;
- Red spots on the skin;
- Intense headache;
- Excessive tiredness and muscle pain;
- Vomiting or bloody diarrhea;
- Bleeding from eyes, mouth, nose, ears, urine and stool.
When symptoms of hemorrhagic fever appear, it is important to consult a doctor in the emergency room as soon as possible, to diagnose the problem and start the appropriate treatment, because after a few days hemorrhagic fever can affect the functioning of various organs, such as liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys, as well as can cause serious brain changes.
Hemorrhagic fever is caused by infection with certain types of viruses, which can be:
The arenavirus belongs to the Arenaviridae family and is the main virus that causes hemorrhagic fever, the most common types in South America being the Junin, Machupo, Chapare, Guanarito and Sabia viruses. This virus is transmitted by contact with the urine or feces of infected mice or through droplets of saliva from an infected person.
The incubation period of the arenavirus is 10 to 14 days, that is, this is the period it takes for the virus to start causing symptoms that have a rapid onset and can be malaise, back pain and eye pain, progressing to fever and bleeding over the days.
Hantavirus can cause hemorrhagic fever that worsens and leads to the appearance of pulmonary and cardiovascular syndrome, more common in the American continents. In Asia and Europe these viruses affect the kidneys more, so they cause kidney failure, or kidney failure.
Human infection with hantavirus occurs mainly by inhaling virus particles present in the air, urine, feces or saliva of infected rodents and symptoms appear between 9 to 33 days after infection, which can be fever, muscle pain, dizziness, nausea and after the third day cough with phlegm and blood appears that can worsen to respiratory failure if not treated quickly.
Enteroviruses, caused by Echovirus, enterovirus, and Coxsackie viruses, can cause chickenpox and can also progress to hemorrhagic fever, leading to red spots on the skin and bleeding.
In addition, other infectious diseases caused by bacteria and rashes, which cause rash or red spots on the body, can manifest in a severe and hemorrhagic way, leading to other he alth problems. These diseases can be Brazilian spotted fever, Brazilian purpuric fever, typhoid fever and meningococcal disease.Learn more about exanthema and other causes.
4. Dengue virus and Ebola
Dengue is caused by several types of viruses of the Flaviviridae family and is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito and its most severe form is hemorrhagic dengue, which leads to hemorrhagic fever, more common in people who have already had the classic dengue or with he alth problems that affect immunity. Learn more about the symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever and how to treat it.
The Ebola virus is quite aggressive and can also lead to hemorrhagic fever, in addition to causing liver and kidney disorders. In Brazil, there have been no cases of people infected by this virus, being more common in regions of Africa.
How the treatment is done
Treatment for hemorrhagic fever is indicated by a general practitioner or infectious disease specialist, consisting mainly of supportive measures, such as increasing hydration and taking medication for pain and fever, for example, and the use of the antiviral ribavirin in patients cases of arenavirus hemorrhagic fever, which should be started as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed by serology.
A person with hemorrhagic fever needs to be admitted to a hospital, in an isolated area, because of the risk of contamination from other people and to have medication given into the vein, such as analgesics to relieve pain and other medicines for control possible bleeding.
There are no vaccines available to prevent hemorrhagic fever caused by viruses, however, some measures can be taken to reduce the risk of infection such as: keeping the environment always clean, using detergents and disinfectants based on sodium hypochlorite at 1% and glutaraldehyde at 2%, in addition to precautions to avoid mosquito bites, such as Aedes aegypti. Learn how to identify the Dengue mosquito.