Marburg Haemorrhagic Fever Marburg Fever

What is Marburg Haemorrhagic Fever?

Marburg Haemorrhagic Fever is caused by a virus in the same family of viruses as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever virus. It causes a severe illness with up to an 80 percent mortality rate. The disease usually begins with a small number of cases, but it can spread to a larger number of people through direct contact with someone already infected. Although the reservoir in nature for this virus is unknown, it is suspected that various kinds of fruit bats residing in caves may harbour this virus.  It may also infect other animals, like monkeys.

The risk of infection is highest when the ill patient is vomiting or bleeding, since these symptoms produce infected secretions.

How do you get Marburg Haemorrhagic Fever?

The initial infection may result from visiting a cave where infected bats  live or by contact with infected dead monkeys. The exact way in which the virus initially infects humans is not clear. However, the major risk for spreading the disease involves close personal contact (without personal protective equipment) with body fluids while caring for an infected person.

Susceptibility and Resistance

All people are susceptible to infection with this virus.

Incubation Period

The incubation period for Marburg Haemorrhagic Fever is 2-21 days.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms are similar to those of Ebola, i.e., sudden onset of fever, weakness, headache and muscle aches and pains. A sore throat followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash and then haemorrhaging from various sites occurs in severe and fatal forms of the disease. Bleeding leads to liver damage, central nervous system symptoms and eventually to shock and failure of many internal organs.

Preventative Measures

Prevention consists of avoiding contact with bats or dead primates. Caring for sick people without protective equipment or preparing corpses for burial of patients suspected of having Marburg should be avoided. While the risk for the general traveller is very low, persons engaging in animal research or health care workers providing care for patients are at increased risk in areas where Marburg virus is occurring.


There is no specific treatment for this disease other than general supportive measures until the patient recovers.

Where Does It Commonly Occur?

Outbreaks of this disease have occurred in Angola, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.