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Marburg Virus Disease


  • Ghana declared the country’s first Marburg virus disease outbreak after two unrelated people died.
  • The news of a new outbreak of a deadly disease caused by viral infections heightened the concerns of a public already exhausted by the coronavirus pandemic and alarmed by the spread of monkeypox and a new case of polio.


GS Paper 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Mains Question

What exactly is “disease management”? How can India ensure better disease management based on the lessons learned from the Covid Pandemic? (250 Words)

Marburg virus disease: History

  • Marburg was discovered in 1967, when outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever occurred simultaneously in laboratories in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, as well as Belgrade, Serbia — cases that were linked to African green monkeys imported from Uganda.
  • According to the World Health Organization, additional cases have since been discovered in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.
  • The cases reported in Ghana last month were the country’s first.

Marburg virus and the disease

  • The pathogen that causes Marburg virus disease in humans is the Marburg virus.
  • According to medical experts, there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for the disease, but hydrating patients and treating their specific symptoms can improve their chances of survival.
  • According to WHO, the disease is clinically similar to Ebola in its spread, symptoms, and progression, despite being caused by a different virus.
  • In the case of Marburg, fruit bats are thought to be the virus’s hosts, though researchers claim the virus does not cause illness in them.

What Research says?

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers believe that Ebola is most likely transmitted by bats or nonhuman primates.
  • Despite the fact that it has not spread widely, Marburg has been deadly, with case fatality rates ranging from 24 percent to 88 percent, according to WHO, depending on which strain people contract and how cases are managed.
  • Ebola case fatality rates are nearly identical.
  • According to WHO, the Marburg virus can be transmitted through direct contact with infected people’s blood, secretions, or other bodily fluids.
  • It can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces and materials, such as bedding or clothing.

Symptoms of Marburg virus disease

  • Marburg can cause severe viral hemorrhagic fever, which impairs the ability of the blood to clot.
  • According to WHO, the incubation period ranges from two to 21 days, and symptoms begin abruptly with high fever, severe headache, and severe malaise.
  • Other symptoms may include muscle aches, diarrhoea, nausea, lethargy, and bleeding from the mouth, faeces, or other parts of the body.
  • According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Marburg is not contagious during the incubation period. According to WHO, severely ill patients frequently die eight or nine days after the onset of symptoms.
  • “Mortality is extremely high.” And there is no such thing as asymptomatic Marburg
  • According to health organisations, a patient’s condition can be confirmed as Marburg by using antibody, antigen, and polymerase chain reaction tests.

How many cases have there been this year?

  • This year, only two cases of Marburg virus disease have been reported, both in Ghana.
  • The people who contracted the virus were unrelated and lived in different parts of Ghana’s Ashanti region; both died.
  • Local authorities used contact tracing to determine that the men had not been in the same places.
  • Fruit bats, which are known to be virus carriers, are common in the Ashanti region.

How does the outbreak compare to previous ones?

  • According to the CDC, more than 200 people died in an outbreak in Angola from 2004 to 2005, and more than 100 died of the disease in Congo from 1998 to 2000. Other Marburg outbreaks have not had as many cases.
  • According to the CDC, there was one case in Guinea in 2021 that resulted in death, and three of four people who had the disease in Uganda in 2017 also died.

What are the hosts for the Marburg virus?

  • Rousettus fruit bats are thought to be the virus’s natural host.
  • According to WHO, the first human infection was caused by African green monkeys imported from Uganda.
  • It was discovered in 1967, following simultaneous outbreaks in Marburg, Germany, and Belgrade, Serbia.
  • The disease has a 50 percent fatality rate on average.
  • According to the WHO, it can be as low as 24 percent or as high as 88 percent, depending on the virus strain and case management.

What are the challenges with Marburg virus disease?

  • Clinically, MVD is difficult to distinguish from diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, and other viral hemorrhagic fevers.
  • However, lab testing of samples confirms it, which, like Coronavirus and Ebola, are extreme biohazard risks.
  • There is currently no approved antiviral treatment or vaccine for MVD.
  • It is treatable with supportive care.
  • Rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, as well as treatment of specific symptoms, can help prevent death, according to the WHO.

November 2023