Explainer: Can the Marburg virus be transmitted from human to human?

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A new outbreak of the Ebola-like Marburg virus was confirmed earlier this week in Cameroon with two cases detected on Tuesday after Equatorial Guinea officially declared its first outbreak on Monday, according to Reuters.

The Marburg virus can be transmitted from human to human, but it is not as easily transmissible as some other viruses, such as the flu or measles.

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The virus is primarily transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, feces, and urine, of an infected person. It can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as medical equipment or bedding.

Once the Marburg virus enters the body, it can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding. People who are infected with the Marburg virus can also spread the virus to others through close contact, such as caring for someone who is sick or handling the body of someone who has died from the virus.

It is important to note that the virus is not airborne, so it cannot be transmitted through the air like the flu or other respiratory viruses such as COVID-19.

Preventing the transmission of the Marburg virus requires taking appropriate precautions to minimize contact with bodily fluids and contaminated surfaces, such as wearing protective clothing and gloves, practicing good hygiene, and properly disinfecting equipment and surfaces.

Here are some key facts about the Marburg virus, according to the WHO:

Marburg virus disease (MVD), formerly known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.

In fatal cases, death occurs most often between 8 and 9 days after symptom onset, usually preceded by severe blood loss and shock.

The illness caused by the virus starts suddenly with a high fever and a severe headache. Muscle aches and pains are a common feature. Severe watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, nausea and vomiting can begin on the third day.

The average fatality rate is around 50 percent. Case fatality rates have varied from 24 percent to 88 percent in past outbreaks depending on the virus strain and case management.

As of yet, there are no licensed treatments for the Marburg virus but a range of blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently under development.

Rousettus aegyptiacus, fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, are natural hosts of Marburg virus.

The virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with infected individuals.

Marburg and Ebola viruses are both members of the Filoviridae family (filovirus).

History of the Marburg virus

Marburg virus disease was initially detected in 1967 after outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, as well as in Belgrade and Serbia.

At the time, the virus outbreak was associated with laboratory work using African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) imported from Uganda.

Since its discovery, outbreaks have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, according to the WHO.

With agencies

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