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There are 4 families of viruses that cause viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), including Filoviridae. Ebola virus is one virus within the family Filoviridae and the cause of the current outbreak of VHF in West Africa. VHF-endemic areas are found throughout the world, yet traditional diagnosis of VHF has been performed in large reference laboratories centered in Europe and the United States. The large amount of capital needed, as well as highly trained and skilled personnel, has limited the availability of diagnostics in endemic areas except in conjunction with governmental and nongovernmental entities. However, rapid diagnosis of VHF is essential to efforts that will limit outbreaks. In addition, increased global travel suggests VHF diagnoses may be made outside of the endemic areas. Thus, understanding how to diagnose VHF is imperative for laboratories worldwide. This article reviews traditional and current diagnostic modalities for VHF.
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