Marburg Virus Disease | The Origin, Spread, Causes, and Treatment

Hello, Pestlites! The Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) [previously referred to as the Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever(MHF)] is a dreadful disease that is prevalent in humans, and non-humans (primates).

We @pestclue have been able to gather:

  • Prominent facts about this deadly virus.
  • Symptoms of this deadly virus.
  • How to avoid this deadly virus, etc

After surfing through this info-filled article, we believe:

  • You would have gained new ideas about the virus.
  • You will be able to enlighten non-pestlites about the viral disease.
  • You’ll refer people to this article.

What is the Marburg Virus Disease (MVD)?

Marburg Virus Disease
Picture of the Marburg Virus Disease

As mentioned earlier, MVD is a dreadful disease most prevalent in human beings and non-humans (especially primates). This disease is caused by 2 other viruses:

  • The Ravn Virus (RAVV)
  • The Marburg Virus (MARV)

The Marburg virus disease is a hemorrhagic (a large flow of blood from a damaged blood vessel) fever whose clinical symptoms are no different from that of the Ebola Virus Disease.

Its fatality ratio equals 88/100 and is still counting. It belongs to the same family as the Ebola disease-causing virus and has been largely prevalent in Africa.

Marburg Virus Outbreak

The Marburg virus is not one to be joked around with as its outbreaks in the past and present times have been outrageous.

Did you know that Marburg is a region located in Germany? sure you did not know this one!

The greatest hit of this virus could be seen evidently in Belgrade (located in Siberia) in the year 1967, and Frankfurt and Marburg (no wonder it is called the Marburg Virus Disease) in Germany and this led to its discovery.

The outbreak was a result of laboratory work that was carried out using the African green monkeys botanically known as Cercopithecus aethiops imported from Uganda. Subsequently, more outbreaks have been reported in:

  • Angola.
  • Congo.
  • Kenya.
  • South Africa.
  • Uganda.

World Cases of the Marburg Virus Disease Outbreak and their Years Of Occurrence (From the year 1967 till date)

IN THE YEAR 1967 (Germany)

In the year 1967, the virus was prevalent in Germany where 31 people became ill in the towns of Marburg and Frankfurt, as well as Belgrade in Siberia.
The outbreak involved 38 individuals, which recorded 25 primary infections, 7 deaths, and 6 unserious secondary cases. The outbreak was traced to infected African green monkeys imported from Uganda and used in developing poliomyelitis vaccines [capable of disabling a life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus (infects the spinal cord)].
The monkeys were received by a company in Marburg that was originally set up to develop the blood serum of an animal used to provide immunity against tetanus and diphtheria.

  • The primary cases involved laboratory staff who were working with the green monkeys’ tissues without adequate personal protective equipment.
  • The secondary cases involved a nurse and the wife of a vet. They both became infected through skin contact with patients.

IN THE YEAR 1975 (Zimbabwe)

In the year 1975, an Australian tourist who died in a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa became infected with the Marburg Virus Disease in Zimbabwe. After his death, his girlfriend and the attending nurse obviously became infected but survived.

IN THE YEAR 1980 (Kenya)

In the year 1980, a French man (an electrical engineer in a sugar factory) who dwelled in Kenya became infected (the cause still unknown) and died shortly after being admitted to a hospital in Nairobi. The physician who attended to him also contracted the virus, but luckily he survived.


In the year 1987, a 15-year-old Danish boy, who spent his vacation in Kenya got infected. He had visited a cave (Kitum cave), where he developed clinical signs of infection. Sadly, he died after transfer to Nairobi Hospital.

IN THE YEAR 1988 (Russia)

In the year 1988, in the Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, a researcher Nikolai Ustinov accidentally infected himself with a syringe used for the vaccination of guinea pigs. Very little information is known about this case though since Nikolai’s experiments were highly classified.
IN THE YEAR 1988-2000 (Congo)

In the years 1988-2000, a major outbreak took place in an area of Congo, among illegal gold miners. This infection caused an additional 150 cases and 128 deaths. The outbreak ended though, with the flooding of the mine.
IN THE YEAR 2004 TO 2005 (Angola)

In early 2005, a viral outbreak of hemorrhagic fever was observed in Angola, causing the Angolan government to ask for international assistance, stating that

  • There were only about 1,200 doctors in the entire province.
  • There was a shortage of protective equipment (hand gloves, gowns, and masks).
  • The MSF reported that when their team arrived at the hospital, they found it operating without water and electricity supply.
  • Contact tracing was difficult since the country’s roads and other infrastructure were in bad shape after nearly three decades of civil war.

A specially-equipped provincial hospital, located at the center of the outbreak was reported to be empty during the trial of the epidemic, even though it was at the center of the outbreak. The World Health Organisation was forced to distribute disinfectants to affected families who refused hospital care. [227 people died out of the 252 who were infected]

IN THE YEAR 2007 (Uganda)

In the year 2007, in the Kamwenge District of Uganda, four miners became infected.

The first case involved a 29-year old man who was admitted to a hospital on July 7, and died 6 days later. He contacted this disease from 2 of his colleagues who miraculously survived the disease. The fourth case involved a 25-year old man who also survived the infection.

IN THE YEAR 2008 (Uganda)

In the year 2008, two independent cases were reported in travelers who visited a cave inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies in Uganda.

  • The first case involved a 41-year old woman, who had visited Python Cave in Uganda. The woman could not survive the virus despite treatment in the Leiden University Medical Centre in Leiden.
  • An American woman who also visited the cave was infected as well.

IN THE YEAR 2017 (Uganda)

In the year 2017, an outbreak of the disease was discovered in Kween District, Uganda. It involved 3 siblings though (two brothers and one sister) who later died on November 3rd.

The 4th person was a health care worker who was admitted to a hospital after he showed symptoms of the infection.


In the year 2021 (recently), a case of the Marburg disease was confirmed by health authorities through laboratory analysis.

This seems to be the first case of the Marburg Virus Disease in West Africa. According to WHO, health authorities in Guinea have confirmed one death from the virus.

Marburg Virus Structure

Marburg virus diseases are filoviruses that may appear:

  • In the shape of a shepherd’s crook
  • In the shape of the letter “U”
  • In the shape of the number “6”
  • Coiled, curved, or branched.

The virus is generally 80 nanometers in width but may vary in length (the particle length of Marburg viruses may range from 795 nm to 828 nm.

They are made up of 7 structural proteins and have a helical ribonucleocapsid at the center which consists of the genomic Ribonucleicacid wrapped around a polymer of nucleoproteins. The ribonucleoprotein is embedded in a matrix (development environment), formed by the major and minor matrix proteins.

These particles are surrounded by a lipid membrane derived from the host cell membrane. The membrane capacitates a glycoprotein that projects 7 to 10-nanometer spikes away from its surface.

Marburg Virus Transmission

The Marburg virus originally results from exposure to caves and mines occupied by the Rousettus bat colonies. A single injection of the virus, by an individual, can result in a massive spread through human-human transmission (through the blood, secretions, wounds on the skin, mucous), or contact with contaminated surfaces.

Marburg Virus Symptoms

What actually results in death is not hemorrhage, but it is a result of Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome due to focal tissue necroses (the area is infiltrated by inflammatory cells), low blood pressure, and fluid redistribution.

Below are symptoms of the Marburg virus in humans:

  1. High fever.
  2. Severe headaches.
  3. A general feeling of illness.
  4. Muscle pains.
  5. Watery diarrhea (usually lasts a weak after infection).
  6. Abdominal pains (begins on the third day of infection).
  7. A maculopapular rash around needle injection sites.

Clinical phases of Marburg Virus Disease

  • Incubation Phase: This stage lasts for an average of 5–9 days.
  • Generalization Phase: This symptom lasts for 5 days and causes:
  1. Severe headache
  2. Feverish chills
  3. Fatigue
  4. Nausea
  5. Vomiting
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Maculopapular rash
  8. Abdominal pain
  9. Conjunctivitis
  • Early Organ Phase: This phase lasts for 5 to13 days and possesses symptoms as:
  1. Prostration,
  2. Dyspnea,
  3. Edema,
  4. Conjunctival injection,
  5. Viral exanthema
  6. Feeling of aggression
  7. Feeling of Apathy
  8. Bloody stools
  9. Ecchymoses
  10. Blood leakage
  • Late Organ Phase: This phase lasts for 13 to 21 days of infection.

Any survivor of this phase will experience:

  1. Myalgia
  2. Fibromyalgia
  3. Hepatitis
  4. Asthenia
  5. Psychosis
  6. Fever
  7. Obtundation
  8. Coma
  9. Convulsions
  10. Diffuse coagulopathy
  11. Metabolic disturbances
  12. Shock, and sadly death

Causes of MVD (Marburg Virus Disease)

MVD is caused by two distinct viruses;

  • Marburg virus
  • Ravn virus

The Marburg viruses are most evident in Africa and were discovered in people visiting natural caves or working in mines. It was discovered in the year 2009 that the virus was most evident in the Rosette bats caught in Egyptian caves.

  • This explains that visiting bat-infested caves is a risk factor for acquiring the deadly virus.
  • Another risk factor is contact with nonhuman primates (especially monkeys, and guinea pigs, etc)

Marburg Virus Treatment

There is currently no effective treatment for the Marburg virus.

Generally, treatment is essential to nature and can help:

  • Minimize invasive procedures
  • Balance fluids and electrolytes to counter dehydration
  • Administer anticoagulants early in infection to prevent or control disseminated intravascular coagulation
  • Administer procoagulants late in infection to control hemorrhaging
  • Maintain oxygen levels
  • Manage pain
  • Administer antibiotics or antimycotics to treat secondary infections

Marburg Virus Disease Prognosis

If a patient is lucky to survive the virus, recovery may be prompt and complete, or protracted with orchitis, hepatitis, uveitis, parotitis, desquamation, or alopecia.

The virus is known to be capable of resisting treatment in some survivors and may reactivate to the secondary stage of the deadly virus, or be transmitted via sperm, causing secondary cases of infection and disease (Marburg virus).

Out of the 252 people who were infected by the deadly virus, in the years 2004–2005, about 227 died (leading to the fatality rate of the infection at 90/100).

Unlike some viruses, the Marburg virus disease is not selective of age groups, so anyone is prone to infection. Despite its age-selection discarding, children are rarely infected. In the years 1998 to 2000 during the Congo epidemic, only about 8 of 100 cases involved children less than 5 years old.


It is most advisable that everyone is wary of the Marburg virus disease, avoid constant contact with each other, and stay safe, as we @pestcle care about your health status.

Do not keep this thrilling article to yourself, but be your brother’s keeper by directing other readers to our webpage so they do not miss out.

Do well drop your comments, and tell us what you think about this article as we will be anticipating your response.

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