Viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHF) are severe and life-threatening viral diseases that have been reported in parts of sub-Sahara, Africa, South America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. VHF's are of particular public health importance because they can spread within a hospital setting, have a case fatality rate and they are difficult to recognise and detect rapidly and there is no effective treatment. Environmental conditions in the UK do not support the natural reservoirs or vectors of any of the haemorrhagic fever viruses and all recorded cases of VHF in the UK have been acquired abroad, with the exception of one laboratory worker who sustained a needle stick injury.

Evidence from outbreaks strongly indicates that the main points of transmission of VHF infections are, direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with blood or body fluids and indirect contact with environments contaminated with splashes or droplets of blood or body fluids. There is no circumstantial or epidemiological evidence of an aerosol transmission risk from VHF patients. Strict infection control precautions are required to protect those who may be exposed.

Four agents of VHF are of concern in the UK because of possible person-to-person spread. These are Lassa, Ebola, Marburg and Crimean/Congo haemorrhagic fevers.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: The Infection Control Team
Ratified by: Clinical Governance Committee
Date Ratified: April 2017
Date Issued: August 2019
Review Date: December 2019
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: The Infection Control Team


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