Bolivian Haemorrhagic Fever Machupo Virus Fever

What is Bolivian Haemorrhagic Fever?

Bolivian haemorrhagic fever (BHF) is a haemorrhagic fever caused by a virus called the Machupo virus. It was first identified in 1959 during an outbreak in the Beni Department in Bolivia. It is a highly dangerous virus with a mortality rate of 5-30 percent. 

How do you get Bolivian Haemorrhagic Fever?

BHF is transmitted to people when they touch rodent droppings or urine contaminated by this virus, or when they touch or eat food that has been in contact with infected rodent feces. It can also be acquired by inhaling sprayed animal urine that is infected. The vesper mouse carries the virus. Evidence of person-to-person transmission of BHF exists but is believed to be rare.

Susceptibility and Resistance

All persons are susceptible. People who survive this disease are immune for a prolonged period.

Incubation Period

The incubation period for Bolivian Haemorrhagic Fever is 2-14 days.

What are the Symptoms?

The infection begins slowly with weakness, fever, vomiting, headache and muscular pains. The illness then proceeds to a second phase with the appearance of a rash (blood spots) on the upper body and bleeding from the nose and gums. Vomiting blood and bloody urine may occur. This is the haemorrhagic phase that starts about 7 days after the first symptoms.  

Preventative Measures

Since there is no vaccine for this disease, prevention includes avoidance of contact between the vesper mouse and humans, often by maintaining an area cleared of vegetation around homes. The infected mouse hesitates to cross open areas. Houses should be kept clean and all food safely stored.


The anti-viral drug, ribavirin, is often used to treat this infection although cures are rare.


Where Does It Commonly Occur?

Bolivian haemorrhagic fever (BHF) virus occurs only in Bolivia.