Everything About the New Marburg Virus Outbreak & What the Disease is All About


The world needs to stop with its diseases because it’s literally one too many.

We already have the coronavirus and its many sub variant buddies from A to E, then O and XE, plus a side of Monkeypox rearing its head.

The good news is the Marburg Virus technically isn’t new; it was first discovered in 1967, where there were simultaneous outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, and Belgrade, Siberia.

The bad news is that because it’s not highly transmissive and/or a disease of concern to the global stage, there are no vaccines or treatments available because pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to make something that won’t sell.

The Origins of the Marburg Virus

Similar to monkeypox, the Marburg Virus originates from animals.

When it was first discovered in 1967, it was initially assumed that it came from the African green monkeys imported from Uganda, but the causes have since been expanded to include the Egyptian rousette fruit bat, and African green pigs as well.

Since some cultures consume and handle bushmeat, the virus crossovers from an animal host to human.

It is considered a cousin of the Ebola virus.

The Symptoms

The virus begins abruptly with a fever, severe headache, and/or muscle pains.

It often followed by watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting three days after the initial infection.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), patients will take on an appearance of “ghost-like” features, deep-set eyes, expressionless faces and extreme lethargy.

The next part is a bit graphic.

Many patients go on to bleed from various parts of their body, then die eight to nine days after falling ill, due to extreme blood loss and shock.

On average, the virus has killed half of those infected, whereas the most harmful strains have a fatality rate of 88%.

While there are specific treatments available, doctors may be able to alleviate the symptoms by giving the patients plenty of fluids and replacing the lost blood.

The Newest Outbreak in Ghana

Health authorities in Ghana have officially confirmed two cases of the Marburg virus earlier this month. Both patients tested positive and unfortunately died later.


The tests done in Ghana showed that they had contracted the disease on 10 July, but the results had to be verified by a laboratory in Senegal for the cases to be considered confirmed.

The Ghana Health Service has begun isolating all identified close contacts, and reports that none of the quarantined individuals have displayed any symptoms thus far.

The first case was a 26-year-old male who arrived at the hospital on 26 June and died on 27 June.

The second patient was a 52-year-old male who checked into the hospital on 28 June and died on the same day.

Both men sought treatment from the same hospital.


The Ghanian health authorities responded swiftly to the situation, which is a good thing as the Marburg can be highly infectious and “can easily get out of hand”.

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Transmission Among Humans

In order to reduce the risk of transmission, people of Africa are asked to refrain from eating or handling bush meats.

They should also avoid contact with pigs in areas with an outbreak.

Among humans, the Marburg virus spreads through bodily fluids and contact with contaminated bedding.

For recovered patients, their blood or semen may still hold the virus, and it’s possible for them to infect others for many months afterwards.

Thus, men who recovered from the virus are advised to use condoms for a full year, or until their semen tests negative for the virus twice.


It is inadvisable to touch an infected individual’s corpse during their burial and funeral.

Previous Outbreaks

As previously mentioned, this is not the first Marburg outbreak.

For West Africa in particular, this is their second outbreak. The first case of virus in the region was detected last year in Guinea, though there weren’t any other patients.

According to the WHO, the worst outbreak happened in 2005 in Angola, where there were 374 cases that resulted in 329 deaths.

Democratic Republic of the Congo had the second worst outbreak between 1998 and 2000, wherein there were 154 cases and 128 deaths.


In 1967, Germany recorded 29 cases and seven deaths.

In 2012, Uganda had 15 cases and four deaths.

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Featured Image: Shutterstock / Hadayeva Sviatlana