Haemorrhagic fevers, Viral


A viral hemorrhagic fever case showing jaundice and bleeding from an injection site on the armA viral haemorrhagic fever case showing jaundice and bleeding from an injection site on the arm. Photo credit: WHO

Viral haemorrhagic fevers are among the important public health emergencies of international concern as defined by the International Health Regulations (2005). They are characterized by sudden onset, muscle and joint pain, fever, bleeding and shock from loss of blood. In severe cases, a prominent symptom is bleeding, or haemorrhaging, from orifices and internal organs.  The most important viral haemorrhagic fevers in the Eastern Mediterranean Region are yellow fever, Rift Valley fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever, Crimean–Congo haemorrhagic fever and Ebola virus disease.

The emergence and re-emergence of viral haemorrhagic fevers is a growing concern worldwide. They are associated with occurrence of major epidemics with high case-fatality rates. Lack of timely laboratory diagnosis, functional epidemiological surveillance, inadequate infection control practices at health care facilities and weak vector control programmes could result in prolonged outbreaks of haemorrhagic fevers.

In the past two decades, the Region has witnessed several major outbreaks of different viral haemorrhagic fevers. To date, they have been reported from more than 12 countries in the Region.