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9 of the worst viruses on Earth

By: Mary Jo DiLonardo on Dec. 9, 2019, 8:36 a.m.
marburg virus

Photo: CDC [public domain]/Wikimedia Commons

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Marburg hemorrhagic fever

Two mysterious outbreaks that occurred in Europe in the '60s were traced back to laboratory workers who handled African monkeys that had been imported from Uganda. A filovirus from the Ebola family of viruses, the virus is named after Marburg, the city in Germany where it was first detected. The natural host for the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family. The virus is transmitted from the bats to people and then spread through human-to-human contact.

Symptoms, which include high fever, severe headache and muscle aches, begin abruptly and quickly progress to include gastrointestinal issues, extreme lethargy and bleeding. In fatal cases — which up to 88% of instances are — death occurs in less than 10 days after symptoms start. There is no vaccine or treatment available.

The WHO has reported outbreaks in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.