By Esther Namirimu
Last week an outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Kabale district in south west Uganda killed four members of the same family.
What is Marburg?
Marburg hemorrhagic fever is a rare, severe type of hemorrhagic fever which affects both humans and non-human primates. Caused by a genetically unique zoonotic (that is, animal-borne) RNA virus of the filovirus family, its recognition led to the creation of this virus family.
The four species of Ebola virus are the only other known members of the filovirus family. (Source: excerpt from Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: DVRD)
Up to a quarter of cases of Marburg hemorrhagic fever are fatal. Since the condition is rare and its signs and symptoms are similar to those of many other severe infections, the diagnosis of Marburg hemorrhagic fever can be difficult. Special immunological and molecular biological tests can identify the virus in body fluids and confirm the diagnosis.
According to MedicineNet.com, there is no specific treatment for Marburg hemorrhagic fever. People with it should be hospitalized and receive supportive care that includes maintenance of circulation and blood pressure and regulation of fluids and electrolyte levels in the blood. Transfusions of blood and blood clotting factors may also be required.
Primary cause of Marburg virus
The primary cause of Marburg virus is the result: of transmission of an infectious agent by another person by one or more of the following: saliva, air, cough, fecal-oral route, surfaces, blood, needles, blood transfusions, sexual contact, mother to fetus, etc
What causes Marburg virus?
Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: DVRD (Excerpt)
As with Ebola virus, the actual animal host for Marburg virus also remains a mystery. Both of the men infected in 1980 in western Kenya had traveled extensively, including making a visit to a cave, in that region.
The cave was investigated by placing sentinels animals inside to see if they would become infected, and by taking samples from numerous animals and arthropods trapped during the investigation. The investigation yielded no virus: The sentinel animals remained healthy and no virus isolations from the samples obtained have been reported. (Source: excerpt from Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: DVRD)
Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: DVRD (Excerpt)
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. (Source: excerpt from Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: DVRD)
The following conditions have been cited in various sources as potentially causal risk factors related to Marburg virus: Exposure to infected person, hospital staff of infected person, family members of infected person, primates, animal laboratory workers.
The signs and symptoms
Marburg hemorrhagic fever strike suddenly 5 to 10 days after infection with the virus and usually include fever, chills, headache, and myalgia (muscle aches). Nausea, vomiting, and chest or abdominal pain may also occur.
A maculopapular rash (with both of flat and raised lesions) appears about 5 days after symptoms have begun. The disease can worsen to include pancreatitis, jaundice, delirium, and ultimately shock and multi-organ failure.
Symptoms of Marburg virus
The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for Marburg virus includes the 31 symptoms listed below:
Phase 1: Sudden onset, fever, chills, headache, and myalgia
Phase 2: Maculopapular rash, trunk rash, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, abdominal pain, diarrhea, jaundice, pancreas inflammation, severe weight loss, delirium shock , liver failure, massive hemorrhaging, multi-organ dysfunction, sore throat, muscle pain, rash, pancreatitis, weight loss, neuropsychotic symptoms, hemorrhage, hypovolemic shock
Prevention of Marburg virus:
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. (Source: excerpt from Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever: DVRD)
Prevention Claims: Marburg virus
Information on prevention of Marburg virus comes from many sources. There are some sources that claim preventive benefits for many different diseases for various products. We may present such information in the hope that it may be useful; however, in some cases claims of Marburg virus prevention may be dubious, invalid, or not recognized in mainstream medicine. Please discuss any treatment, discontinuation of treatment, or change of treatment plans with your doctor or professional medical specialist.