Marburg virus disease


    In News

    • Five people have died and three others are infected with the Marburg virus – in Tanzania.

    What is Marburg Virus Disease?

    • It  is a highly virulent disease that causes hemorrhagic fever, with a fatality ratio of up to 88%. It is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola virus disease. 


    • Human infection results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies. 
    • It can spread through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids. 


    • High fever, severe headache and severe malaise. Muscle aches and pains are a common feature. 
    • Severe watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramping, nausea and vomiting can begin on the third day.
    • The appearance of patients at this phase has been described as showing “ghost-like” drawn features, deep-set eyes, expressionless faces and extreme lethargy. 
    • A non-itchy rash has been noted between 2 and 7 days after the onset of symptoms. 

    Severity of the Disease:

    • Many patients develop severe hemorrhagic manifestations within 7 days, and fatal cases usually have bleeding, often from multiple areas. 
    • Involvement of the central nervous system can result in confusion, irritability and aggression. Orchitis (inflammation of the testicles) has been reported occasionally in the late phase (15 days). 
    • In fatal cases, death usually occurs between 8 and 9 days after onset, usually preceded by severe blood loss and shock. 


    • Preventive measures against Marburg virus infection are not well defined, as transmission from wildlife to people remains an area of ongoing research. However, avoiding fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus), and sick non-human primates is one way to protect against infection.
    • To prevent person to person transmission wearing protective gowns, gloves, and masks; placing the infected individual in strict isolation; and sterilization or proper disposal of needles, equipment, and patient excretions should be practiced.


    • Supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms improves survival. 
    • There is no proven treatment available for Marburg virus disease. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated.

    Source: IE