Diseases and Conditions

Viral hemorrhagic fevers


Preventing viral hemorrhagic fevers is challenging. If you live in, work in or travel to areas where these diseases are common, protect yourself from infection by using appropriate protective barriers when working with blood or body fluids. For example, wear gloves and eye and face shields. Precautions also include careful handling, disinfection and disposal of lab specimens and waste.

Get vaccinated

The yellow fever vaccine is generally considered safe and effective. However, in rare cases, serious side effects can occur. The yellow fever vaccine isn't recommended for children younger than 9 months of age; pregnant women, especially during the first trimester; or people with compromised immune systems.

There's also an Ebola vaccination that protects against one type of Ebola. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the status of the countries you're visiting — some require certificates of vaccination for entry.

Avoid mosquitoes and ticks

Do your best to avoid these insects, especially when traveling in areas where there are outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers. Wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts or, better yet, permethrin-coated clothing. Don't apply permethrin directly to the skin.

Avoid being outside, if possible, at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and apply mosquito repellent with a 20% to 25% concentration of DEET to your skin and clothing. If you're staying in tented camps or in hotels, use bed nets and mosquito coils.

Guard against rodents

If you live where there are outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers, take steps to keep rodents out of your home:

  • Keep pet food covered and stored in rodent-proof containers.
  • Store trash in rodent-proof containers, and clean the containers often.
  • Dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tightfitting screens.
  • Keep woodpiles, stacks of bricks and other materials at least 100 feet from your house.
  • Mow your grass closely and keep brush trimmed to within 100 feet of your house.