Viral haemorrhagic fevers are a group of illnesses that are caused by several distinct families of viruses: arenaviruses, filoviruses, bunyaviruses and flaviviruses. Some of these cause relatively mild illnesses, whilst others can cause severe, life-threatening disease.
Examples of viral haemorrhagic fevers include Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Marburg and Ebola. Because the viruses depend on their animal hosts for survival, they are usually restricted to the geographical area inhabited by those animals. The viruses are endemic in areas of Africa, South America and Asia. Humans are not the natural host for these viruses, which normally live in wild animals.
The HPA provides diagnostic facilities at two reference laboratories