Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: Fact Sheet
How do humans get Marburg hemorrhagic fever?
Just how the animal host first transmits Marburg virus to
humans is unknown. However, as with some other viruses which cause viral
hemorrhagic fever, humans who become ill with Marburg hemorrhagic fever may
spread the virus to other people. This may happen in several ways. Persons
handling infected monkeys who come into direct contact with them or their
fluids or cell cultures, have become infected. Spread of the virus between
humans has occurred in a setting of close contact, often in a hospital.
Droplets of body fluids, or direct contact with persons, equipment, or other
objects contaminated with infectious blood or tissues are all highly suspect as
sources of disease.
What are the symptoms of the disease?
After an incubation period of 5-10 days, the onset of the
disease is sudden and is marked by fever, chills, headache, and myalgia. Around
the fifth day after the onset of symptoms, a maculopapular rash, most prominent
on the trunk (chest, back, stomach), may occur. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a
sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea then may appear. Symptoms become
increasingly severe and may include jaundice, inflammation of the pancreas,
severe weight loss, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive hemorrhaging, and
Because many of the signs and symptoms of Marburg hemorrhagic
fever are similar to those of other infectious diseases, such as malaria or
typhoid fever, diagnosis of the disease can be difficult, especially if only a
single case is involved.
Which laboratory tests are used to diagnose Marburg hemorrhagic fever?
Antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
testing, IgM-capture ELISA, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and virus
isolation can be used to confirm a case of Marburg hemorrhagic fever within a
few days of the onset of symptoms. The IgG-capture ELISA is appropriate for
testing persons later in the course of disease or after recovery. The disease
is readily diagnosed by immunohistochemistry, virus isolation, or PCR of blood
or tissue specimens from deceased patients.
Are there complications after recovery?
Recovery from Marburg hemorrhagic fever may be prolonged and
accompanied by orchititis, recurrent hepatitis, transverse myelitis or uvetis.
Other possible complications include inflammation of the testis, spinal cord,
eye, parotid gland, or by prolonged hepatitis.