Marburg hemorrhagic fever is a rare fever which can affect both humans and non-human primates. It is caused by Marburg virus, a zoonotic RNA virus of the flovirus family. Five species of the Ebola virus are also members of the flovirus family.
The virus was first recognized in 1967 when outbreaks occurred in laboratories in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany as well as in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
The Marburg virus is spread to humans by bats. The reservoir host of the Marburg virus is the African fruit bat, Rousettus aegyptiacus. These bats do not show any obvious signs of illness but humans who become infected with the virus can develop serious disease with high mortality.It can result in massive haemorrhaging and organ failure.
The major symptoms of the Marburg fever include fever, chills, headache and myalgia. Around the fifth day of the onset of symptoms, patients can also demonstrate a maculopapular rash that is more prominent on the chest, back and stomach. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain and diarrhea may also occur.
In patients with a very severe infection, symptoms can include jaundice, inflammation of the pancreas, severe weight loss, delirium, shock, liver failure, massivehaemorrhaging and multi-organ dysfunction.
Symptoms of the Marburg fever are often similar to other infectious diseases such as malaria or typhoid fever. That is why clinical diagnosis of the disease can often prove to be difficult. The fatality rate for the fever is between 23-90 percent.
The Rousettus bat is a sighted, cave-dwelling bat widely distributed across Africa putting many areas at risk for outbreaks. The virus is not found in other continents.
The Marburg virus is Ebola’s deadly cousin and is believed to be up to 90 percent lethal. There are some who believe that the Marburg virus could result in a big outbreak in the future as it can migrate to a densely populated area just like Ebola.
A team of scientists describe an antibody that binds to both Ebola and Marburg. This could potentially lead to the development of new antibody treatments that would be able to fight these viruses.
“These cross-reactive antibodies are a straightforward route to a therapeutic,” said TSRI Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire, senior author of new study. “You could use these antibodies directly against Marburg virus or—with a bit more engineering—use them to also target Ebola virus.”