The Marburg virus, which causes deadly infections like Ebola, has spread like wildfire in Africa. Now the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging all travelers to Guinea and Tanzania to take preventive measures to avoid catching the deadly virus. In addition, the health agency is sending personnel to help prevent the spread of the virus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Marburg virus is an infectious disease with a high mortality rate and epidemic potential. The National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases will be deployed by the CDC to respond to the outbreaks in Tanzania and Guinea, the agency said.
Equatorial Guinea first reported the virus in February, and since then the WHO has recorded nine confirmed cases and 20 additional probable cases, all of which have died.
According to the WHO, Marburg virus disease is a highly fatal disease that causes hemorrhagic fever, with a mortality rate of up to 88 percent. It is part of the filovirus family that also includes the Ebola virus, which has wreaked havoc in several previous outbreaks in Africa. The natural host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat, which carries the virus but does not get sick from it.
Bats and other infected animals can transmit Marburg virus. High fever, internal and external bleeding, and severe headache are some of the symptoms of viral illness.
After being infected, Marburg virus can be spread from person to person by direct contact (through a skin cut or ruptured mucous membrane) with blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids, as well as with the infected person. Contact with contaminated surfaces and materials (eg bedding and clothing).
There is no known cure or vaccine for Marburg, but blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are being studied as possible treatments, in addition to primary candidate vaccines, according to the WHO.