FAQ on the Marburg virus

An electron micrograph of the Marburg virus. In black and white, two rod-shaped viruses can be seen, bent at one end.
Elektron micrograph picture of the Marburg Virus
Image: BNITM

1. What are Marburg viruses and where do they occur?

Marburg virus disease (MVD) is caused by the Marburg virus which is, like the Ebola virus, an animal-borne RNA virus of the filovirus family. Until now, Marburg virus disease was known to occur in eastern, central and southern Africa. In 2021, scientists identified a patient with this disease in West Africa for the first time.

2. What are the symptoms of infection?

The Marburg virus can cause haemorrhagic fever in infected persons, which is fatal in 24 to 88 percent of cases depending on virus strain and case management (WHO). As the World Health Organization (WHO) states on its website (www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/marburg-virus-disease), after an incubation period of two to 21 days, symptoms such as high fever, strong headache and myalgia may appear. Vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain and severe watery diarrhoea may also occur. Symptoms become increasingly severe and may include massive bleeding and multi-organ failure.

3. How are Marburg viruses transmitted?

One of the reservoirs for the Marburg virus is the African fruit bats Rousettus aegyptiacus. Close contact with Marburg virus patients or with their body fluids like blood can lead to infection.

4. Which treatment do we know?

So far, there is neither a specific treatment for Marburg virus disease nor a vaccine. However, supportive care like rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival.

5. Where can I find more detailed information?

Contact

  • Prof. Dr  Stephan Günther
  • Head of Virology Department
  • phone: +49 40 285380-547
  • fax: +49 40 285380-931
  • email: guenther@bnitm.de
  • Dr  Eleonora Schoenherr
  • Science Officer
  • phone: +49 40 285380-269
  • fax: +49 40 285380-265
  • email: schoenherr@bnitm.de