Research on prevention and treatment of hemorrhagic fevers
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Biological Threats Identification and Countermeasure Centre, Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Puławy, Poland
Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Warsaw, Poland
Department of Epidemiology, Medical University, Warsaw, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2012;19(2):165–171
Viral hemorrhagic fevers are severe zoonotic diseases caused by RNA-viruses classified into 4 families: [i]Arenaviridae, Bunyaviridae, Filoviridae[/i], and [i]Flaviviridae[/i]. They are present on all continents except Antarctica, their person-to-person spread is easy, and there is a high risk of them being used as weapon by bioterrorists. So far, efforts to develop effective drugs against these viruses have failed, and typical therapy usually relies on symptomatic treatment. Search for substances that could effectively inhibit this type of infections is now a priority. The presented paper gives an overview of different approaches used in combating the viral hemorrhagic fevers. Researchers look for safe antiviral agents with appropriate properties among natural sources, such as various types of herbs plants, algae, or essential oils obtained from trees, as well as investigate the use of various synthetic substances. The aim is to broaden the pool of available antiviral drugs that could replace hitherto applied medicines such as ribavirin, which is not always sufficiently effective and may have side-effects. The scientists focus not only on combating the diseases, but also on their prevention. For this purpose, recombinant vaccines or various types of immunomodulators may serve as a useful tools. Results of the latest studies are promising and encourage further work which may eventually lead to the solution of the urgent problem of hemorrhagic fevers.