The virus was named for the German city where it was first detected in 1967, nine years before the discovery of Ebola. A mysterious disease that included hemorrhagic fevers struck workers at a vaccine factory who had handled a shipment of green monkeys from Uganda. The virus also infected people in Frankfurt and Belgrade; 31 people fell ill, and seven died.
Marburg is a rare, severe form of hemorrhagic fever closely related to the Ebola virus. In both diseases, victims bleed to death, often from every orifice and every organ. Few infections are as deadly.
The animals were spared from Marburg virus even when treated three days after infection.
Marburg virus (MARV) first appeared in August 1967, when laboratory workers in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany and Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) were infected with a previously unknown infectious agent.
Marburg and its close relative Ebola cause sporadic outbreaks of disease in people in Africa, but the animal that harbours these viruses for the rest of the time has proved elusive. Hundreds of wild animals were tested before Eric Leroy and colleagues at the International Centre for Medical Research in Franceville, Gabon, found traces of Ebola in three species of fruit bat in 2005.
Ebola and Marburg may have diverged as one spread among free-living fruit bats, the other among cave dwellers.
Natural reservoir for emerging viruses may be bats.
The Marburg virus is probably most easily introduced as the sister of the infamous Ebola virus. The viruses are similar in their genetic and structural makeup, they’re transmitted from human-to-human and their clinical presentation in humans is similar. But there are some marked differences.
A cousin of Ebola, the Marburg virus has erupted periodically in Africa in sudden, gruesome epidemics, only to disappear just as mysteriously.
No one knows why Marburg outbreaks have been less deadly than Ebola outbreaks. It could be something about the virus itself—i.e., the Marburg virus may not be as effective at countering the body's immune response—or it could be something about the available medical care at the site of the outbreak.
The reservoir host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat, Rousettus aegyptiacus. Fruit bats infected with Marburg virus do not to show obvious signs of illness. Primates (including humans) can become infected with Marburg virus, and may develop serious disease with high mortality.
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Marburg virus disease (MVD) (formerly known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever) was first identified in 1967 during epidemics in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia from importation of infected monkeys from Uganda. MVD is a severe and highly fatal disease caused by a virus from the same family as the one that causes Ebola virus disease.