Definition of Epidemic hemorrhagic fever

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Epidemic hemorrhagic fever: A syndrome caused by a hantavirus which is transmitted to humans by contact with infected rodents urine or feces. Patients typically develop a high fever, cough, shortness of breath and abdominal or back pain and may go on to develop kidney failure, which is usually temporary.

Many arboviruses (including those in the families Togaviridae, Flaviviridae, Filoviridae, and Bunyaviridae) and the Hantaviruses, spread by rodents or biting insects, can cause epidemic hemorrhagic fever. The Ebola virus is a notorious cause of epidemic hemorrhagic fever.

Bioterrorism -- There has been concern about the hemorrhagic fever as a possible weapon for bioterrorism. However, the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the US Congress, in a 1999 report considered hemorrhagic fever to be an "unlikely" biologic threat for terrorism, because these viruses are very difficult to obtain and process, unsafe to handle, and relatively unstable. The lethal effects of these viruses were deemed by the GAO to depend on the strain but can be "very high."


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