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Marburg virus particles

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Marburg virus particles (yellow) both budding and attached to the surface of an infected VERO E6 cell (blue). Courtesy National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

CDC urges clinicians to be aware of potential imported cases of Marburg

April 6, 2023

U.S. health officials are advising clinicians and public health departments to be aware of the potential for imported cases of Marburg virus disease following outbreaks in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania.

Risk of the disease in the U.S. is low, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory Thursday to increase awareness.

Marburg virus disease is a rare but highly fatal viral hemorrhagic fever, according to the advisory. The two outbreaks, which occurred in February and March 2023, are believed to have involved animal-to-human transmission but are not believed to be related.

The virus is spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids of someone who is sick with or has died from Marburg virus disease, with the body fluids of infected animals or with needles or other fomites contaminated with the virus. It is not spread through airborne transmission.

The CDC recommends clinicians include Marburg as a differential diagnosis for someone who is ill and has a recent history of exposure to someone with confirmed or suspected Marburg virus disease or has been to an area with an active outbreak in the past 21 days. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms or unexplained bleeding. Clinicians should consider other diagnoses such as malaria, COVID-19, influenza and other common causes of gastrointestinal and febrile illnesses. Multiple infections may be present.

The CDC has additional information on screening, evaluating and testing patients, infection control and consultation with public health departments.

No vaccine or treatment has been approved in the U.S. Mortality rates are estimated at 23%-90% without early diagnosis and supportive care.

The CDC also recommends people traveling to areas where Marburg may be present take precautions including avoiding contact with blood or body fluids of people who are sick or have died from suspected or confirmed Marburg. They also should avoid contact with fruit bats and nonhuman primates. Upon returning from an affected area, they should monitor their health for 21 days and immediately seek medical care if they develop symptoms.


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