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Ebola Virus / Lassa Fever


Viral hemorrhagic fevers are a group of febrile illnesses caused by several distinct families of viruses, all of which are enveloped and have RNA genomes. Although some types cause relatively mild illnesses, many of these viruses can cause severe, life-threatening disease. Severe illness is characterized by vascular damage and increased permeability, multiorgan failure, and shock. Confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever have been reported in the Congo, Cote d"Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, and Uganda. Lassa fever is caused by a virus transmitted from asymptomatically infected rodents to humans. Lassa fever is limited to rural areas of West Africa, with areas of hyperendemicity in eastern Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria. No current treatment can cure viral hemorrhagic fevers, but the antiviral drug ribavirin can sometimes shorten the course of certain hemorrhagic fevers and help prevent complications and relapses.

Who is at Risk?

The risk for international travelers is generally considered to be low. Several cases of Lassa fever have been confirmed in international travelers. These travelers were staying or living in traditional dwellings in the countryside or in small villages; no risk has been associated with travelers who stay in hotels. Travel involving patient contact or rodent exposure is associated with increased risk. Medical personnel, researchers, and relief workers involved in the management of patients or working in disease-endemic areas should be aware of their risk and should minimize rodent exposure and use personal protective equipment to prevent health-care associated exposure.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cable News Network LP, LLLP

Recent Ebola and Lassa Virus Research and News at The Scripps Research Institute

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