Diagnosing specific viral hemorrhagic fevers in the first few days of illness can be difficult because the initial signs and symptoms — high fever, muscle aches, headaches and extreme fatigue — are common to many other diseases.

To help with diagnosis, your doctor is likely to ask about your medical and travel history and any exposure to rodents or mosquitoes. Be sure to describe international trips in detail, including the countries you visited and the dates, as well as any contact you may have had with possible sources of infection.

Laboratory tests, usually using a sample of your blood, are needed to confirm a diagnosis. Because viral hemorrhagic fevers are particularly virulent and contagious, these tests are usually performed in specially designated laboratories using strict precautions.



While no specific treatment exists for most viral hemorrhagic fevers, the antiviral drug ribavirin (Rebetol, Virazole, others) may help shorten the course of some infections and prevent complications in some cases.


Supportive care is essential. To prevent dehydration, you may need fluids to help maintain your balance of electrolytes — minerals that are critical to nerve and muscle function.

Surgical and other procedures

Some people may benefit from kidney dialysis, an artificial way of removing wastes from your blood when your kidneys fail.

Jan. 05, 2018
  1. AskMayoExpert. Viral hemorrhagic fevers. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  2. Viral hemorrhagic fevers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/vhf.htm. Accessed Dec. 18, 2015.
  3. Knust B. Viral hemorrhagic fevers. 2016 Yellow Book. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/viral-hemorrhagic-fevers. Accessed Dec. 18, 2015.
  4. Grey MR, et al. Viral hemorrhagic fevers. In: The Bioterrorism Sourcebook. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2006. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Dec. 18, 2015.
  5. Clean up rodent food sources and nesting sites. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/prevent_infestations/clean_up.html. Accessed Dec. 18, 2015.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers