The Marburg virus, a deadly cousin of Ebola, may kill 90 percent of those infected. The fatal sickness, caused by the Marburg virus outbreak, appears to have resurfaced in Africa as humanity continues to grapple with the economic and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, exactly, what is this virus? What is its history? What are the signs and symptoms? Is there a recognised remedy for it as of yet?
Origin: A group of patients began displaying signs of an infectious illness in August 1967 in Marburg, Frankfurt, and Belgrade (then Yugoslavia, now Serbia), including a high temperature, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting. The patients’ health deteriorated over the following four days to the point that they started bleeding from every body pore, even needle puncture wounds. In total, 31 persons died.
Marburg virologists discovered the first filovirus, a relative of the exceedingly deadly Ebola virus, three months after the outbreak. The virus was spread by infected African green monkeys from Uganda. After its first discovery, the virus was primarily found in mines or caves that were home to bats in Africa. However, the virus resurfaced in Europe some 40 years later when a traveler returned to the Netherlands from a trip to Uganda where she had visited caves.
Over 250 persons were infected and 90% of them died in Angola in 2004 during the greatest known Marburg virus outbreak.
Marburg virus spreads through direct contact with infected people’s blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids, as well as through contaminated objects such as bedding. As a result, health personnel have frequently become infected while treating patients sick with the Marburg virus.
Symptoms: The World Health Organization has produced a list of symptoms that might occur after getting the Marburg virus. The infection causes a fever, lethargy, severe headache, and muscle pains to begin. This is frequently followed by diarrhoea, stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting, as well as acute tiredness and lethargy. The virus takes 2 to 21 days to incubate, and many people have severe viral haemorrhagic fever, with blood in their vomit and faeces and bleeding from their nose, mouth, and vagina. The virus’s attack is so severe that most victims die 8-9 days after infection, frequently from severe blood loss.
The virus’ persistent targeting of different organs reduces the body’s ability to function on its own. Because the symptoms are similar to typhoid and malaria, the Marburg virus is initially difficult to identify.
Treatment: There is currently no vaccination or treatment available for the Marburg virus sickness. While scientists have already created a variety of experimental vaccinations and treatments that have showed promising benefits in animals, they have yet been tried on humans.
Rehydration treatment, on the other hand, is used to reduce symptoms, which can raise the chances of survival.
According to Gavi, the vaccine alliance, hopeful results came in early 2023 when a study published in The Lancet revealed that an experimental vaccine against Marburg virus (MARV) called cAd3-Marburg was safe and generated an immunological response in a limited, first-in-human clinical trial.
This vaccine employs a modified chimpanzee adenovirus termed cAd3 that no longer replicates or infects cells, as well as a glycoprotein found on the surface of MARV to elicit immune responses against the virus. The vaccine will shortly be tested in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and the United States, and it might subsequently be utilised in MARV epidemic response.
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