Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: Fact Sheet
Is the disease ever fatal?
Yes. The case-fatality rate for Marburg hemorrhagic fever is
How is Marburg hemorrhagic fever treated?
A specific treatment for this disease is unknown. However,
supportive hospital therapy should be utilized. This includes balancing the
patient's fluids and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood
pressure, replacing lost blood and clotting factors and treating them for any
Sometimes treatment also has used transfusion of fresh-frozen
plasma and other preparations to replace the blood proteins important in
clotting. One controversial treatment is the use of heparin (which blocks
clotting) to prevent the consumption of clotting factors. Some researchers
believe the consumption of clotting factors is part of the disease process.
Who is at risk for the illness?
People who have close contact with a human or non-human primate
infected with the virus are at risk. Such persons include laboratory or
quarantine facility workers who handle non-human primates that have been
associated with the disease. In addition, hospital staff and family members who
care for patients with the disease are at risk if they do not use proper
barrier nursing techniques.
How is Marburg hemorrhagic fever prevented?
Due to our limited knowledge of the disease, preventive
measures against transmission from the original animal host have not yet been
established. Measures for prevention of secondary transmission are similar to
those used for other hemorrhagic fevers. If a patient is either suspected or
confirmed to have Marburg hemorrhagic fever, barrier nursing techniques should
be used to prevent direct physical contact with the patient. These precautions
include wearing of protective gowns, gloves, and masks; placing the infected
individual in strict isolation; and sterilization or proper disposal of
needles, equipment, and patient excretions.
In conjunction with the World Health Organization, CDC has
developed practical, hospital-based guidelines, titled "Infection
Control for Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers In the African Health Care
Setting." The manual can help health-care facilities recognize cases
and prevent further hospital-based disease transmission using locally available
materials and few financial resources.
What needs to be done to address the threat of Marburg hemorrhagic fever?
Marburg hemorrhagic fever is a very rare human disease.
However, when it does occur, it has the potential to spread to other people,
especially health care staff and family members who care for the patient.
Therefore, increasing awareness among health-care providers of clinical
symptoms in patients that suggest Marburg hemorrhagic fever is critical. Better
awareness can help lead to taking precautions against the spread of virus
infection to family members or health-care providers. Improving the use of
diagnostic tools is another priority. With modern means of transportation that
give access even to remote areas, it is possible to obtain rapid testing of
samples in disease control centers equipped with Biosafety Level 4 laboratories
in order to confirm or rule out Marburg virus infection.