Viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHF) are a group of acute febrile illnesses caused by RNA viruses from different families. They are all zoonoses. From a pathophysiological point of view, what they have in common is an increase in vascular permeability which, depending on the virus, can lead to severe complications with or without haemorrhage. Haemorrhagic fevers are associated with major epidemics, sometimes with a high mortality rate. There are no antiviral or vaccine-based medical countermeasures, with the exception of yellow fever and Ebola virus disease caused by the Zaire ebolavirus species.
A centre for the management of highly pathogenic viral infections.
The HUG, along with the Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, is one of two hospitals in Switzerland able to receive and treat people suspected or confirmed of having HVF.
International and humanitarian organizations based in Geneva regularly deploy staff in the field during epidemics. The HUG and its Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases have developed a partnership with these organizations for the care of staff suspected or confirmed of having HFV who have been repatriated from the field. In this context, the Centre, in collaboration with various departments at the HUG, has put in place a care procedure to ensure that it is as well prepared as possible for the reception, diagnosis and treatment of a person infected with one of these viruses.
Field missions as part of the response to epidemics.
Within the framework of cooperation with non-governmental organizations, such as MSF, or international institutions such as the WHO, members of the Emerging Viral Diseases Centre are regularly deployed in the field to take part in the response to epidemics.
Recent epidemics of viral haemorrhagic fevers.
Since the large-scale Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa in 2014-16, multiple small to medium-sized epidemics due to Zaire ebolavirus species (EBOV) have been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Guinea. In September 2022, an epidemic of MVE due to the Sudan ebolavirus species (SUDV) was declared in Uganda, with a total of 164 cases reported, including 55 confirmed deaths. The vaccines and monoclonal antibodies developed for EBOV were ineffective against SUDV. Fortunately, the epidemic was limited and declared over on 11 January 2023.
In 2023, several outbreaks of Marburg fever disease have already been reported in sub-Saharan Africa. More epidemiological information is available on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website: https://www.who.int/emergencies/disease-outbreak-news