Diagnosing specific viral hemorrhagic fevers in the first few days of illness can be difficult because the early signs and symptoms — high fever, muscle aches, headaches and extreme fatigue — are common to many other diseases.
To help with diagnosis, tell your doctor about your medical and travel history and your exposure to rodents or mosquitoes. Include the countries you visited and the dates, as well as any contact you might have had with possible infection sources.
Lab tests, usually using a blood sample, are needed to confirm a diagnosis. Because viral hemorrhagic fevers are particularly infectious and contagious, these tests are usually performed in specially designated labs using strict precautions.
There's no cure for viral hemorrhagic fevers. Vaccinations exist for only a few types. The best approach is prevention. Supportive care is the mainstay of treatment.
While no specific treatment exists for most viral hemorrhagic fevers, the antiviral drug ribavirin (Rebetol, Virazole) might shorten the course of some infections and prevent complications in some people. Other medications are being developed.
Supportive care is essential. To prevent dehydration, you might need fluids to help maintain your balance of electrolytes — minerals that are critical to nerve and muscle function.
Surgical and other procedures
Some people might benefit from kidney dialysis, which removes wastes from your blood when your kidneys fail.
Feb. 24, 2021
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- Clean up! Clean up rodent food sources and nesting sites. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/prevent_infestations/clean_up.html. Accessed Jan. 6, 2021.
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- Chertow DS, et al. Treatment and prevention of Ebola virus disease. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Jan. 6, 2021.
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