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These illnesses are caused by viruses from 4 groups:
The viruses share these features:
Rodents such as rats and mice, and ticks and mosquitoes are the hosts for many of these viruses. But researchers do not know what the hosts are for viruses like Ebola and Marburg.
You can get infected by coming in contact with the urine, stool, or saliva of an infected rodent. Or you can get infected by a tick or mosquito bite. Viruses can also be spread if you crush an infected tick.
The viruses that cause these illnesses are found wherever their host species lives. For some species, this is a limited area. In other cases, a certain species may be found worldwide. One example is the common rat.
Sometimes the host is taken from its natural habitat. That can cause an outbreak in a new place. Or an infected person may travel outside the virus’s natural area and give the disease to another person. With more people traveling each year, new outbreaks are becoming a greater threat.
The symptoms vary by the specific disease. Each person may also have slightly different symptoms. Various organs in the body can be affected. Symptoms often include:
People with severe cases often show signs of bleeding. This may be under the skin, in internal organs, or from body openings such as the mouth, eyes, or ears. But blood loss is rarely the cause of death. These people may also have:
The symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your health care provider for a diagnosis.
No vaccines are available to prevent these diseases. Two exceptions are for yellow fever and Argentine hemorrhagic fever. As a result, the focus is on staying away from the host species.
For rodents, that includes:
For viruses spread by ticks or mosquitoes, prevention focuses on:
Travelers should take precautions to prevent infection. These include:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.