Marburg virus

Marburg virus disease is a serious haemorrhagic (causing bleeding) fever that affects people and non-human primates. It is caused by Marburg virus or Ravn virus, which are animal-borne viruses related to Ebola viruses. 

If you become infected, symptoms may start showing after two days but it may also take up to three weeks. The symptoms start suddenly and include fever, chills, headache and muscle ache. After about five days, a rash develops mostly on your chest, back and stomach. It may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, tummy ache and diarrhoea. The disease becomes gradually more severe, causing jaundice due to liver damage (yellowing of the skin and eyes), pancreas inflammation, extreme weight loss and, as it progresses, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive haemorrhaging and multiple organ failure. In the past, between 23 and 90 per cent of infected people died.

Marburg virus was discovered in 1967, when there were sudden outbreaks of haemorrhagic fever among lab workers in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany and in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). They all worked with African green monkeys imported from Uganda or their tissues.

The natural animal reservoir of Marburg virus is Egyptian rousette bat, found throughout Africa. When bats carry the virus, they do not show signs of illness. Primates (including people) can become infected with the virus when they come into contact with the bats, their saliva, urine and/or excrements. You can also get the virus when you come into contact with infected people or other primates. 

The person-to-person transmission happens through contact of your broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth with the blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, excrements, vomit, breast milk, amniotic fluid or semen) of an infected person or someone who died of Marburg virus disease. The semen of a man who recovered from Marburg virus disease can still be infectious for weeks or months.

There is no specific treatment for Marburg virus disease, only supportive care is given to relieve the symptoms, including replenishing fluids and minerals, making sure the patient has optimal oxygen levels, monitoring blood pressure and, if necessary, blood transfusions.Avoiding close contact with bats and primates will reduce your risk of Marburg virus and that applies also to not-eating their flesh. Having a well-balanced vegan diet does not only support your health in the best possible way, it also reduces the risk of deadly diseases such as Marburg virus disease.