Marburg Virus - Dream Health

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Monday 10 April 2023

Marburg Virus

Marburg Virus

Marburg virus is a form of viral hemorrhagic fever. This virus is very harmful. This virus is the Filoviridae family's member genus of which is Marburgvirus.

What is Marburg virus?

Marburg virus is a member of the family Filoviridae and genus Marburgvirus. This zoonotic virus is transmitted from animals to humans. It can cause outbreaks with high fatality rates. The African fruit bat is an animal reservoir in nature for this virus.

It is similar to the ebola virus and it causes MVD or Marburg virus disease which was previously called Marburg hemorrhagic fever. This severe fever affects humans and non-human primates. While the initial outbreak had connections with laboratory works that used African green monkeys which were imported from Uganda. Later, several outbreaks were observed in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.

What are the Marburg virus symptoms?

The symptoms of Marburg virus are as follows:-

  • Infected people usually experience high fever, headache, muscle aches, and malaise as symptoms. 
  • People can have abdominal pain, cramping, and heavy watery diarrhea. 
  • Infected people bleed from many orifices. Like Ebola, it is also a hemorrhagic fever. Patients can bleed from their noses, gums, and eyes. As internal bleeding, people can experience blood in vomit, urine, and stool. Remember that losing too much blood causes shock and death. 
  • You should know that the time between infection and the start of symptoms is called the incubation period. It is usually two days to three weeks. Usually, symptoms begin within a week, whereas death occurs between 8 and 9 days after initial symptoms.

How is the Marburg virus spread?

WHO says that the virus comes from fruit bats via different mechanisms. These bats spread the virus directly or indirectly to monkeys or other animals. For instance, it can spread viruses through foods that are contaminated by fruit bats, like figs, mangoes, and dates.

This virus can affect humans after long exposure to such an environment which is inhabited by African fruit bats like staying in mines or caves, or if the person has close contact with an infected animal or comes into contact with the infected animal's body fluids like saliva, feces, and urine, the virus can affect them.

Is there a Marburg virus vaccine? How is the disease treated?

There is still no vaccine for the virus. However, a test vaccine is available. Still there is no particular antiviral treatment. To treat infected people, symptomatic and supportive therapies are used. It indicates that they could get fluids, oxygen, and blood transfusions.

Who should worry about the Marburg virus?

Those who need to worry about the virus are as follows:-

  • Individuals having close contact with Rousettus aegyptiacus African fruit bats or their secretions. It refers to the travellers who visit caves or mines where infected bats live in endemic regions of Africa. 
  • Individuals suffering from MVD already or infected non-human primates. 
  • Family members and/or hospital staff members who take care of the already infected people. It happens especially when prevention methods & control measures are unfollowed. 
  • People who are practising in some specific occupations where they could be exposed to the virus. For example, veterinarians and laboratory workers taking care of non-human primates from Africa are at risk. 
  • People in direct contact with infected individuals, such as family members, caregivers, and healthcare workers, are at risk. 
  • Suspected people or those with confirmed Marburg virus must be in isolation. People caring for the infected people must wear protective gowns, gloves, and masks. These help to avoid direct physical contact with patients.

News on this Marburg virus outbreak:

WHO says that the virus kills half of the people it infects on average, while the earlier outbreaks kill between 24% and 88% of patients.

In 1967, this virus was first identified when 31 people were infected & 7 people got dead in many outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and Belgrade in Serbia.

It was traced to African green monkeys, which are imported from Uganda.

The virus has been connected to other animals.

People who spend long periods in caves and mines full of bats transmit the virus basically.

Currently, the Marburg virus outbreak is seen in the following places:

  • Equatorial Guinea 
  • Ghana 
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo 
  • Kenya 
  • South Africa 
  • Uganda 
  • Zimbabwe

An outbreak in 2005 in Angola killed over 300 people. In the remaining world, only 2 people have died from the virus in the last 40 years. One in Europe, whereas one in the US.

Where have most cases been recorded?

Five people are dead in Tanzania's north-western Kagera region, whereas 3 people are under treatment in hospital. Authorities are tracing 161 contacts.

In February, an outbreak occurred in Equatorial Guinea. It has infected nine people and killed seven.

Twenty more cases are under investigation by the WHO.

There are many other outbreaks, including:

  • 2022, Ghana: 3 cases, 2 deaths
  • 2017, Uganda: 3 cases, 3 deaths 
  • 2012, Uganda: 15 cases, 4 deaths 
  • 2005, Angola: 374 cases, 329 deaths 
  • 1998-2000, DR Congo: 154 cases, 128 deaths 
  • 1967, Germany/Serbia: 31 cases, 7 deaths

How can it be contained?

Gavi, an international health organization, says African people should not eat or handle bushmeat. According to WHO, people must stay away from pigs and their related areas.

Men who are virus-infected need to use condoms for twelve months after the onset of symptoms or until the semen test has become negative for the virus twice.

People who bury dead people (who died from the virus) so that they don't need to touch the body.

The bottom line:

In this article, we have covered almost all necessary details about the Marburg virus which is the member of the Filoviridae family. It is dangerous to human and non-human primates.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. How do people get the Marburg virus?

The transmission of the virus can happen from fruit bats to people. This virus can be spread among humans from human to human.

Q. Can the Marburg virus be cured?

No particular treatment is still available for Marburg virus disease.

Q. Which countries have the Marburg virus?

Countries that face the outbreak of this virus are Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania.

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