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Diagnosis and management of viral haemorrhagic fevers in the ICU 

Diagnosis and management of viral haemorrhagic fevers in the ICU
Diagnosis and management of viral haemorrhagic fevers in the ICU

Emersom C. Mesquita

and Fernando A. Bozza

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date: 24 February 2020

In a globalized scenario where widespread international travel allows viral agents to migrate from endemic to non-endemic areas, health care providers and critical care specialists must be able to readily recognize a suspected case of viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF). Early suspicion is pivotal for improving patient outcome and to ensure that appropriate biosafety measures be applied. VHFs are acute febrile illnesses marked by coagulation disorders and organ specific syndromes. VHFs represent a great medical challenge because diseases are associated with a high mortality rate and many VHFs have the potential for person-to-person transmission (Filoviruses, Arenavioruses, and Bunyaviroses). Dengue is the most frequent haemorrhagic viral disease and re-emergent infection in the world and, due to its public health relevance, severe dengue will receive special attention in this chapter. The diagnosis of VHFs is made by detecting specific antibodies, viral antigens (ELISA) and viral nucleic acid (RT-PCR) on blood samples. Supportive care is the cornerstone in the treatment of VHFs. Ribavirin should be started as soon as a case of VHF is suspected and discontinued if a diagnosis of Filovirus or Flavivirus infection is established. Adjunctive antimicrobial therapy is usually implemented to treat co-existing or secondary infections. Antimalarial treatment should also be initiated if a malaria test (thick blood films) is not quickly available and/or reliable and patients travel history is compatible. It is always recommended to apply appropriate biosafety measures and notify local infection control unit and state and national authorities.

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