Friday, January 22, 2010

Bolivian Hemorrhagic Fever

So a little bit on the Bolivian Hemorrhagic Fever(BHF) that was mentioned today, as well as detailed in the first chapter of the book.
This disease is a little bit different from all the others that we have studied so far in that it is actually a viral infection as opposed to a bacterial one. and rather than a mode of transmission that requires ingestion of the pathogen, the BHF virus merely needs to be inhaled. Furthermore, this virus can be spread directly from one person to the next, although it is a rare occurrence.
relatively slow symptoms and a longer incubation period make the BHF, a result of the Machupo virus, difficult to detect due to it ambiguous early symptoms. The early symptoms can include fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and muscular pain. Vomiting blood and nose bleeds follow, chased by dehydration and higher blood pressure(like Cholera). As the infection progresses, blood spots start to appear on the upper body while the nose, gums, stomach and intestine begin to bleed, which can lead to severe blood loss and hypotensive shock and neurological damage. In all, the disease has a mortality rate that ranges anywhere from 5-30%.

Due to the mortality rate, and the mode of infection, the Machupo Virus is rated at a bio hazard level 4, the highest level. There is currently no definite cure and a vaccine is being borrowed from a similar disease that shows some positive effects, but there is none specifically for the Machupo virus. In any case, this is why it is at biohazard level 4, which means that a Hazmat suit and self contained oxygen are required for work on the virus, as well as multiple showers, airlocks, leading to vacuum rooms and ultra-violet light rooms that have been shown to kill the virus. Other pathogens that are at this level of risk include the briefly mentioned hantavirus, the Ebola virus, and the bird flu.

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