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Marburg virus, the Ebola-like outbreak

  • Published
    19th Jul, 2022

The first two cases of the Marburg virus, a highly infectious Ebola-like disease, have been confirmed officially by Ghana after test results were verified by a Senegal laboratory.

  • This outbreak is only the second time that the disease has been detected in West Africa.

About Marburg virus disease:

  • According to WHO, Marburg virus disease (MVD), earlier known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal hemorrhagic fever.
  • Marburg, like Ebola, is a filovirus; and both diseases are clinically similar.
  • Rousettus fruit-bats are considered the natural hosts for Marburg virus.
  • However, African green monkeys imported from Uganda were the source of the first human infection.
  • It was first detected in 1967 after simultaneous outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany; and in Belgrade, Serbia.
  • The disease has an average fatality rate of around 50%.


  • Common symptoms of Marburg virus disease include- high fever, severe malaise, severe headache, Muscle aches and pains.
  • Patients may also see severe watery diarrhoea, nausea & vomiting, abdominal pain & cramping on the third day following the contracting.
  • These symptoms persist for a week.


  • It can be difficult to clinically distinguish Marburg virus disease (MVD) from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis, meningitis and other viral haemorrhagic fevers.
  • Confirmation that symptoms are caused by Marburg virus infection are made using the following diagnostic methods: 
  • antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • antigen detection tests; 
  • serum neutralization tests
  • reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay; and 
  • virus isolation by cell culture. 
  • Samples collected from patients are an extreme biohazard risk and laboratory testing on non-inactivated samples need to be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.
  • All biological specimens must be packaged using the triple packaging system when transported nationally and internationally. 


  • No treatment or vaccine has been developed for Marburg, yet.
  • Patients are treated through rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids.
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