On 19/Oct/2017 / In Medical News
Marburg Virus – A virus causing hemorrhagic fever, belonging to the same family of the Ebola virus and most commonly prevalent in African countries
The Marburg virus (MARV) was first discovered in 1967 in an outbreak in Marburg, Germany as well as in Belgrade, Yugoslavia at this time. The virus caused a total of 31 cases which resulted in hemorrhagic fever, a high fever often associated with internal bleeding. Since the majority of the cases were in Marburg, the virus was named after the city. Out of the 31 total cases, 7 died.
The source of the infection was traced back to African green monkeys that were imported from Uganda for research. This virus is zoonotic, meaning the virus can infect both humans and animals.
The primary carrier is the Egyptian fruit bat, Rousettus aegyptiacus, which is part of the Pteropodidae family. This fruit bat lives in areas across Africa and usually does not display any obvious symptoms of illness, but have been shown to be the natural host of Marburg virus.
Initial patients are believed to have contracted the virus via exposure to an infected animal.
Following transmission to humans, the spread of the virus between individuals is the result of direct contact with blood or other body fluids.
Marburg virus disease is a rare and severe disease. Although it is rare, sporadic outbreaks have been seen in African countries since 1980.
The virus has lower fatality rates than Ebola, (which is also in the same family and will be discussed in greater context later) and was once thought to be less threatening than Ebola.
After there were two large outbreaks during 1998-2000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and an outbreak for the first time in Western Africa, the threat level of the Marburg virus had to be revised.
A total number of 40 cases and fatality rates of 85% in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as fatality rates of 90% in Angola revealed that MARV was as big of a threat for the public health as Ebola.
To date, there have been a total of 452 documented cases and 368 deaths, but it is likely the numbers are slightly higher.
There have been two recent cases in 2008, one non-fatal case in the US and one fatal case in the Netherlands. Interestingly, both cases had previously traveled to Uganda and visited the same cave at Queen Elizabeth National Park before returning to their home country.
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