Marburg Virus

How Serious Is the Marburg Virus (and Should I Be Worried About It)?


Hemorrhagic fever is caused by this rare virus, which is currently spreading in Africa.

In Equatorial Guinea, in Africa, a meeting of the World Health Organization was recently held to discuss the Marburg virus. Ebola-related viruses have no known cure. Researchers are rushing to deploy experimental vaccines and medicines to contain the outbreak, which is so far small. Here are some things you should know.

How scary is the Marburg virus?

 Marburg Virus

The Marburg virus is similar to the Ebola virus in terms of genetic similarity. It is an RNA-based filovirus (named after its snake-like shape) that causes hemorrhagic fevers. There can be a variety of effects on several organ systems as a result of these conditions. As a result, they can cause internal bleeding or hemorrhaging by damaging blood vessel walls.

Viruses can cause organ failure and death, but not all cases are fatal. Mild or moderate cancer can be treated if the patient receives the proper medical care. However, fatality rates range from 24% to 88%.

Blood is a bodily fluid that can spread Marburg. Families of infected individuals and healthcare workers are most at risk. The illness can be transmitted by direct contact with an infected individual or their body or by surfaces they have touched (like bedding). The virus isn’t airborne, fortunately.

Where is the Marburg outbreak?

Equatorial Guinea, which lies just south of Cameroon in the inner corner of the continent, is currently experiencing an outbreak of the Marburg virus. It may have started in January, but Marburg has only recently been identified as the cause of the epidemic. In the meantime, nine people have died, and 16 others are quarantined, according to STAT.

Humans are occasionally infected with the Marburg virus, which usually affects bats. The name is derived from a town in Germany where several laboratory workers became ill in 1967. There was a link between the virus and some monkeys in the lab. Several outbreaks have occurred since then, most recently in Uganda, Guinea, and Ghana. In most episodes, sick people were isolated, exposed individuals were quarantined, and the bodies of those who died were handled with care.

The Marburg virus causes fever. What happens to a person who contracts it?

 Marburg Virus

The World Health Organization reports that Marburg begins with the sudden onset of fever and severe headaches. It is possible to experience muscle aches, diarrhea, and vomiting afterward. A person with these symptoms could be mistaken for another disease, such as Ebola or Typhoid fever.

In fatal cases, blood is often found in feces and vomit and in the nose, gums, and vagina. Around eight to nine days after symptoms begin, death occurs.

To prevent the disease from worsening, healthcare workers try to keep the person hydrated and treat symptoms as they arise. No medicine has been found to combat the virus reliably, and no vaccine exists to prevent it.

There are vaccines and treatments that may work against Marburg, including some that have worked against Ebola. The World Health Organization encourages scientists to bring experimental therapies to the region affected by the outbreak as soon as possible. It may be possible to save lives with these treatments, but the episode also offers an opportunity to test whether they will be effective in the future.

A highly virulent disease-causing hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus disease is fatal in 88% of cases. This virus is related to the Ebola virus. In 1967, two large outbreaks coincided in Marburg, Germany, and Belgrade, Serbia, leading to the first recognition of the disease. African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) imported from Uganda were involved in the outbreak. There have been outbreaks and sporadic cases in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa (in a person who recently visited Zimbabwe), and Uganda since then. The disease was reported in two independent cases in Uganda in 2008 in travelers who visited a cave inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies. 

Infection with the Marburg virus occurs when humans are exposed to caves or mines inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies for an extended period. Upon condition, Marburg can spread from one person to another via blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids (through broken skin or mucous membranes) of infected individuals, as well as surfaces and clothing contaminated with these fluids. 

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