The world has been grappling with viral diseases for centuries, with some outbreaks proving more deadly and devastating than others. Among these are Marburg and Ebola, two hemorrhagic fevers caused by viruses of the Filoviridae family. Marburg and Ebola are considered to be some of the deadliest viruses known to mankind, with high fatality rates and no known cure. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the lessons learned from past Marburg and Ebola virus outbreaks and how they can inform future responses.
Marburg virus (MARV) is a member of the species Marburg marburgvirus, genus Marburgvirus. It causes Marburg virus disease in primates, a form of viral hemorrhagic fever. The virus is considered to be extremely dangerous and is rated as a Risk Group 4 Pathogen by the World Health Organization (WHO), requiring biosafety level 4-equivalent containment. MARV is also listed as a Category A Priority Pathogen by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States and as a Category A Bioterrorism Agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also listed as a biological agent for export control by the Australia Group.
Marburg virus can be transmitted by exposure to one species of fruit bats or it can be transmitted between people via body fluids through unprotected sex and broken skin. The disease can cause haemorrhage, fever, and other symptoms similar to Ebola, which belongs to the same family of viruses. According to the WHO, there are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatment for Marburg, but early, professional treatment of symptoms like dehydration considerably increases survival chances.
Marburg virus was first described in 1967. It was discovered that year during a set of outbreaks of Marburg virus disease in the German cities of Marburg and Frankfurt and the Yugoslav capital Belgrade. Laboratory workers were exposed to tissues of infected grivet monkeys (the African green monkey, Chlorocebus aethiops) at the Behringwerke, a major industrial plant in Marburg which was then part of Hoechst, and later part of CSL Behring. During the outbreaks, thirty-one people became infected and seven of them died.
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is caused by the Ebola virus, a member of the Filoviridae family. Like Marburg virus, Ebola virus is considered to be extremely dangerous and is rated as a Risk Group 4 Pathogen by the WHO, requiring biosafety level 4-equivalent containment. Ebola virus is also listed as a Category A Bioterrorism Agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ebola virus is transmitted to people through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected animals, such as fruit bats, or through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected humans. The virus can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. The symptoms of Ebola virus disease include fever, headache, muscle pain, and weakness, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and impaired kidney and liver function.
The first outbreak of Ebola virus disease occurred in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, there have been several outbreaks of the disease in Africa, with the largest outbreak occurring in West Africa from 2014 to 2016. During that outbreak, there were over 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.
The outbreaks of Marburg and Ebola viruses have taught us many lessons about how to respond to and control viral outbreaks. One of the most important lessons is the need for a rapid and coordinated response to contain the spread of the virus. The earlier the response, the better the chances of containing the outbreak and preventing it from becoming a global health crisis.
Another important lesson is the need for effective communication and transparency with the public. Providing clear and accurate information about the virus and its transmission, as well as the measures being taken to control its spread, can help to build trust and cooperation among affected communities.
The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other infection control measures is also crucial in preventing the spread of these highly infectious viruses. Health care workers and other first responders must be properly trained in the use of PPE and other infection control measures to prevent themselves and others from becoming infected.
Finally, the outbreaks have highlighted the need for continued research and development of effective treatments and vaccines for these deadly viruses. While progress has been made, there is still much to be learned about these viruses and how to best combat them.
The linked articles below can help you as you seek to learn more about Marburg Virus and Ebola:
- Marburg and Ebola: A Case for Increased Funding for Research and Preparedness
- Marburg and Ebola: A Comparison of the Economic Costs of Outbreaks
- Marburg and Ebola: The Psychological Impact on Survivors
- Global Preparedness for Marburg and Ebola Virus Outbreaks
- Marburg and Ebola: The Role of Healthcare Workers
- Marburg and Ebola: A Comparison of Global Response Efforts
- Marburg and Ebola: Lessons Learned from Past Outbreaks
- The Socioeconomic Impact of Marburg and Ebola Outbreaks
- The Ethics of Research on Marburg and Ebola Viruses
- Marburg and Ebola: A Study of Their Genetic Makeup
- The Role of Bats in the Transmission of Marburg and Ebola Viruses
- Marburg and Ebola: Similarities and Differences in Symptoms and Treatment
- Outbreaks of Marburg Virus and Ebola: A Historical Comparison