Overview – What is it?
The Marburg virus disease is a condition that causes viral haemorrhagic fever in humans as a result of the Marburg virus. This virus is transmitted through human-to-human contact causing symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.
It is diagnosed through laboratory tests such as the polymerase chain reaction test and the ELISA test.
It can be treated through supportive care such as providing fluids, blood transfusions and oxygen to patients.
The disease can be prevented through avoiding areas with Marburg virus outbreaks, maintaining good hygiene such as frequently washing your hands and by avoiding contact with infected people.
Causes – What causes it?
Marburg virus is believed to be transmitted to humans by the African fruit bat Rousettus Aegyptiacus which is then spread from one person to the other through direct contact either by skin to skin contact, sexual intercourse or coming into contact with other bodily fluids.
Risk factors for Marburg virus disease include:
- Travelling to places with a high risk of the virus,
- Being a medical provider or care giver,
- Preparing bodies for burial, and
- Conducting animal research.
Symptoms – What do you feel?
Once a person is infected with the Marburg virus, it takes about 2 to 21 days for the symptoms to start manifesting. Some of the symptoms for this viral infection include:
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches
- Chest pain
- Some people may experience a rash on the back, chest and stomach
- Sore throat
- Pain in the abdomen
- Joint pain
When the symptoms become severe, a person may experience:
- Severe weight loss
- Liver failure
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Severe haemorrhaging with organ dysfunction
- Severe haemorrhagic manifestations which can result in bleeding from different areas of the body including the ears, nose, gums and rectum
Diagnosis – How do you diagnose it?
Some of the tests that can be done to diagnose Marburg virus disease are:
- ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test: This test detects and measures antibodies in the blood, thereby, determining whether you have antibodies related to the Marburg virus disease.
- PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test: It is used to make copies in a laboratory of a particular DNA section, which are then used for various experiments and procedures such as molecular biology.
- Antigen detection test: This diagnosis procedure is used to detect the presence of an antibody using the presence of an antigen.
- Serum neutralization test: It involves serum which may contain a neutralising antibody. A microorganism is placed in a cell culture or injected into a host organism to evaluate the levels of protective antibodies present in the serum.
- Virus isolation by cell culture: In this procedure, cells are grown in a laboratory and various antibodies are applied to them, to help in diagnosing the different viruses.
Treatment – How do you treat it?
There is no specific treatment for Marburg. Therefore, patients are offered supportive care, such as:
- Rehydration through oral or intravenous fluids,
- Treatment of specific symptoms like maintaining blood pressure levels and treating other infections,
- Carrying out blood transfusions to replace lost blood, and
- Providing oxygen as required.
Prevention – How do you prevent it?
Prevention of Marburg virus disease is based on reducing the risk factors associated with the condition. The measures to take include:
- Avoiding contact with a person who is infected,
- Avoiding areas which have outbreaks of the virus and that are high risk areas for the virus,
- Practising good hygiene by frequently washing your hands,
- Following procedures to control infection such as wearing protective clothing especially if you’re a care-giver,
- Not handling remains of people who have died as a result of the virus without the appropriate safety equipment,
- Avoiding eating of bush meat,
- Avoiding the sharing of needles and sharp cutting objects, and
- Being careful when handling wild animals.