Marburg virus (MARV) is a hemorrhagic fever virus that belongs to the Filoviridae family of viruses and causes Marburg virus disease in primates, a form of viral hemorrhagic fever. It is a genetically unique RNA zoonotic virus of this family.
The World Health Organization rates it as Risk Group 4 pathogen (requiring biosafety level for equal containment). This is an extremely dangerous virus. In the United States, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ranks it as Category A Priority pathogen while Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists it as the Category A Bioterrorism Agent. It is also listed as a biological agent for export control by the Australia group. It has also been considered a biological weapon for bioterrorism.
Transmission of virus is by exposure to a species of African fruit bats or transmitted between people via body fluids by unprotected sex and broken skin. Symptoms of Marburg Virus disease are bleeding, fever, diarrhea, nausea, emesis, abdominal pain, and cramping, non-itchy rashes etc., which are very similar to Ebola. There is no approved marburg virus vaccine or antiviral treatment for Marburg virus. Health care workers who treat MVD are at risk of getting infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed MVD.
Two diseases caused in humans by Marburg virus (MARV) is –
In the year 2022, MARV cases have been out from the Ashanti region of Ghana. Two cases have been reported so far with preparations for a possible outbreak being made. On 17 July, 2022 both cases were confirmed from Ghana. The case fatality rate is 100% and two cases reported could not survive so died. These cases were revealed positive after testing on 8 July, 2022 and outbreak was confirmed on 17 July, 2022. Death occurs after 8-9 days of symptom onset.
The WHO is preparing for a possible outbreak and deploying experts to assist Ghana’s public health efforts.
Chances of outbreak spreading worldwide are less unless people affected from Ghana travel to other countries carrying the virus in their bodies. If this happens, India will too be a victim!
It is believed to persist in immune-privileged sites in some people who have recovered from MVD. These sites in males include testicles, eyes. In pregnant females, it is persistent in placenta, amniotic fluid and fetus. In breastfeeding women, it persists in breast milk. Hence chances of reinfection and transmission are high even if one survives the MARV.
For more info, visit WHO page to get insights on the persistence of MARV.
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