Marburg virus

Other names: Ebola virus, Ebola virus and Marburg virus


Ebola virus and Marburg virus are related viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers. These illnesses are marked by severe bleeding, organ failure, and in many cases, death. Both viruses are native to Africa, where sporadic outbreaks have occurred for decades. Ebola virus and Marburg virus live in animal hosts, and humans can contract the viruses from infected animals. No drug has been approved to treat either virus. People diagnosed with Ebola or Marburg virus receive supportive care and treatment for complications. Scientists are coming closer to developing vaccines for these deadly diseases.


Signs and symptoms typically begin abruptly within five to 10 days of infection with Ebola or Marburg virus. Early signs include fever, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, chills, and weakness. Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (may be bloody), red eyes, raised rash, chest pain, cough, stomach pain, severe weight loss, bleeding (usually from the eyes), bruising, internal bleeding.


Ebola virus has been found in African monkeys, chimps, and other nonhuman primates. A milder strain of Ebola has been discovered in monkeys and pigs in the Philippines. Marburg virus has been found in monkeys, chimps, and fruit bats in Africa. Experts suspect that both viruses are transmitted to humans through an infected animal's bodily fluids.


For most people, the risk of getting Ebola or Marburg viruses is low. The risk increases if you travel to Africa where outbreaks have occurred or conduct animal research with monkeys imported from Africa or the Philippines.


Both Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers lead to death for a high percentage of people who are affected. As the illness progresses, it can cause multiple organ failure, severe bleeding, jaundice, delirium, seizures, coma, shock.


If you think you may have been exposed to Ebola or Marburg virus, seek medical help immediately. Before your appointment provide your doctor with information about your symptoms and any recent travel history.


Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers are difficult to diagnose because early signs resemble those of other diseases. Blood tests such as ELISA and PCR are used for diagnosis.


No antiviral medications have proved effective in treating infection with either virus. Supportive hospital care includes providing fluids, maintaining blood pressure, providing oxygen as needed.


Prevention focuses on avoiding contact with the viruses through hand hygiene practices and avoiding areas of known outbreaks. Vaccine development is ongoing.


  1. What are some early signs of Ebola or Marburg virus?


Severe headache

Joint and muscle aches

  1. How do Ebola and Marburg viruses spread from animals to humans?

Through infected animal's bodily fluids

  1. What is a significant risk factor for contracting Ebola or Marburg viruses?

Traveling to Africa

  1. What complications can arise from Ebola or Marburg hemorrhagic fevers?

Multiple organ failure

Severe bleeding


  1. How can one prepare for a medical appointment if they suspect exposure to the viruses?

Provide information about symptoms and travel history

  1. How are Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers diagnosed?

Through blood tests like ELISA and PCR

  1. What treatments are available for Ebola or Marburg infections?

Supportive care including fluid replacement

  1. What lifestyle measures can help prevent infection with Ebola or Marburg viruses?

Hand hygiene

Avoiding areas of outbreaks

  1. Can vaccines protect against Ebola or Marburg viruses?

Scientists are working on developing vaccines

  1. Can infected individuals become contagious before showing symptoms?

Infected individuals typically don't become contagious until they develop symptoms